The pharmaceutical industry is witnessing a massive transformation owing to the current health crisis. This sector has always been slow in adopting new technologies. But now, this is not the case; the industry is now undergoing rapid transformation by employing technologies. The most prominent pharmaceutical industry trends include 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), in silico trials, precision medicine, etc. There are increasing investments, growth of tech startups, expiration of essential patents, increasing inter-organizational tech collaborations, and an excellent regulatory ambiance; these factors are collectively spurring innovation in the pharma industry.
Following are few trends prospected to shape the dynamics of the pharmaceutical industry in the current year and for the future:
- Use of 3D Printed Drugs
3D printed drugs are now in trend due to their customizable property of medicine. 3D Printing technology is revamping currently and in the future. These drugs designed and produced using 3D printing technology are customized for patients safely and effectively. Its key advantages are the ability to produce polypills (containing multiple drugs in a single pill), cost-effectiveness, and a personalized approach (including drug composition and its kinetics).
The key players using 3D-printing technology for drug development are GSK, Cycle Pharma, FabRX, etc.
- Performing Pharmaceutical Operations At The Nanoscale
Nanotechnology indicates the manufacturing of pharmaceutical materials at the nanoscale (10-9 meter) in dosage formation. The drug made up using nanotechnology is better than the customarily developed drugs. Nanotechnology is now gaining acceptance in the pharmaceutical industry, and the pharmaceutical industry will play a significant role in the prominence of nanotechnology in the upcoming years. Nanomedicine and nanodelivery systems are also used where materials in the nanoscale range are employed to serve as a means of diagnostic tools or deliver therapeutic agents to targeted sites in a controlled manner. Its prospected applications are brain targeting, vaccine adjuvants, tumor targeting, and many others.
The leading companies using nanotechnology for pharmaceutical operations are CytImmune, camurus, Aquanova, etc.
- Increasing Role of Automation and Robotics
A robot system is a type of automation with multiple axes of motion and can be programmed to perform a function. Robots prove advantageous in the filling, inspection, packaging, laboratories, and development of personalized medicine. Automation, covering automated inspection and packaging, is an increasingly important component of pharmaceutical manufacturing. Automation in the Pharmaceutical industry is reducing the time and cost of manufacturing medicines.
The key companies already using automation and robotics are kuka AG, Intuitive surgical, universal robots, etc.
- Using Artificial Intelligence in Pharmaceuticals
Artificial Intelligence in pharma is the system of interconnected and automated technologies in the industry which function autonomously, with little or negligible human intervention. It helps and fastens the processes in many ways in R&D, clinical trials, and other departments. In 2021 and upcoming years, it will be a top trend in every form of development. Its key advantages or applied areas are developing a new drug, personalized medicines, disease detection, treatment of rare diseases, and performing repetitive tasks using AI-enabled robots.
The companies using this technology are Eli lili, Amgen, and Roche.
- Performing clinical trials by in-silico means
In silico trials experiments conducted utilizing a computer simulation, this technology can entirely bypass in vivo (animal and human) clinical testing. These trials are advantageous in several ways; these are cost-effective, require lesser time, it is safe as it does not involve living organisms, efficient diagnosis of rare diseases, etc.
The key companies performing in silico trials are Evotec AG, biovia, and Charles river.
- Developing Personalized/Precision medications:
People prefer using personalized medicines due to fewer side effects and better efficacy. Precision medicine is going to be a top trend with awareness about health. Precision medicine requires a detailed analysis of information carried out at both the macro level, such as identifying health trends among populations, requiring detailed studies at the individual and genetic levels.
The oncology department most often uses this technology. Companies like 2bPrecise, Biocrates life sciences, Syapse Inc., and Asabio have already earned a reputation as an innovator in the field.
- The advent of Wearable Medical Devices in Healthcare:
A wearable device is an electronic medical device that can be worn as accessories, embedded in clothing, implanted in the patient’s or user’s body for health monitoring purposes. These devices are gaining access to people and will be top trends in 2021 due to their handy feature and helping in the early detection of health issues. Majorly these devices are used to monitor patient health in real-time without having to see the patient.
Few companies actively developing these wearable devices are Philips, Medtronic, Apple, etc.
- Using Blockchain Technology in the drug development process:
Blockchain is based on digital technology. It provides a digital ledger system for records and log transactions by grouping them into chronologically ordered blocks. As the world goes more digital, blockchain helps the pharmaceutical industry maintain the drug supply chain, trials, and many. It is going to be a hot trend in the pharmaceutical industry in 2021 due to obvious benefits. Blockchain provides total traceability of drugs, from manufacturer to consumer, and helps to identify exactly where the supply chain broke down during an issue.
Pfizer, Roche, Nebulla genomics, and many others are widely using blockchain technology.
- Digitalizing The Therapeutic Devices And Processes:
Digitalization of therapeutics reduces cost, fastens the process, and enables earlier detection of disease; due to these advantages, it will be a top trend in the digital era for 2021. Digital therapeutics (DTx) is evidence-based therapeutic interventions using software to prevent, manage, or treat physical, mental, and behavioral conditions. These non-pharmacological, tech-driven solutions are either stand-alone or used along with medications, devices, or therapies. These processes work in conjunction with a drug regimen to address more complex conditions, like asthma or cancer treatment.
Some pharmaceutical companies that are adopting digitalization for their operations are welldoc, 2Morrow, and Livongo health.
- Use Of Real-World Data In The Pharmaceutical Industry
Real-World Data covers patient health status, treatment data, and health reports maintained routinely. The real-world data enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors, and wearables is restructuring the way the pharma industry is functioning. This technology helps the patient and health industry looking for a better cure and understanding of the patient’s journey. It is a top trend as it is helping in many ways, including safety & efficacy. Also, it enables the identification of populations with enhanced benefit/risk and provides a greater understanding of the varied patient journeys, treatment pathways, and levels of drug effectiveness.
The leading Companies providing real-world evidence solutions to the pharmaceutical companies are Anthem Inc., Clinigen, and Cognizant.
Technology trends are slowly creeping to the core of the Pharmaceutical Industry and will bring the requires transformations that will help the industry to evolve further. The Pharma Industry has seen positive growth since the latter half of 2020. With the global COVID 19 pandemic swinging its sword over the world, there has been an increased focus on improving accessibility, increasing investments, and growing exports, significantly aiding the Pharma Industry’s growth bandwagon. All these trends are in accordance with the desired change.
Mr. Surjeet Sinha is Senior Research Associate at Ingenious e-Brain, an IP intelligence, technology intelligence, and business intelligence services provider to worldwide companies and legal firms across the globe.