Challenges and innovations in pharma industry

A lot of things are happening in the pharmaceuticals (and health) industry. Here are some of the big challenges:

Creative commons Flickr – Quinn Dombrowski

+ Pharma is one of the most regulated industries in the world (before banking and construction).
+ R&D budgets are getting lower and organisations have to get more results in less time.
+ The traditional business model is not working anymore. It costs millions (or even billions) to develop a new drug but the worldwide competition has become very hard.
+ Big data (and destilling the right insights) is of course also in this industry a big issue.
+ Most organisations have a very log structure that didn’t change a lot in the last 50 years (marketing, sales, manufacturing, innovation) – they only grew bigger and bigger due to consolidations
+ Patients are getting (or have to get!) a more important role – instead of being the end-consumer, the pharma industry has to involve the patient in discussions around policies, commercial models, regulation and innovations.

All these changes in the industry require a different mindset from the people inside the industry. This is what the pharma industry needs:

– We need people who dare to cross the network borders and different types of roles have to collaborate (scientists, medical doctors, chemical engineers, political experts and patients)
– We need leaders who stimulate their employees and external stakeholders to believe in change and give them the skills to adapt quickly
– We need more outside the box thinking because the old ways are not working anymore
– We need to think in a cross-industry way – what can we learn from different industries
– We need more agile organisations and people who can shift minds in an easy way
– We need different mindsets to cope with all these changes

Here are a few recent innovations within the pharma industry:

+ Smartphone app can identify billions of pill types immediately
TruScan combines cloud-based image recognition with TruSpeak — enabling visually impaired patients to access their pill information audibly. According to the company, counterfeit goods take away USD 600 billion from legitimate businesses each year, with ten percent of all medicines thought to be fake. Not only is this bad for business, it’s unsafe for patients. TruTag has developed an inert, edible silica solution that can be mixed into items such as pills, foods and other products in a nanoscopic layer with a code etched into it. The tags require no special technology to implement — simply mix a few particles of the powder-like compound into existing medicinal coatings or into food itself. When scanned with TruTag’s proprietary equipment, the codes reveal details about the content’s manufacture date and location, or other important details. The company even suggests that the tags could even be read by smartphones if the functionality was developed. TruTags could help pharmaceutical companies to encrypt their physical products with data to help health professionals and consumers alike to ensure they have the real deal. –

+ Service gives the seriously ill access to innovative treatments still in development.
The service is a platform for patients to connect with doctors and drug companies who have performed positive trials of new treatments. Those with illnesses register to be updated when treatments matching their disease or condition are made available through myTomorrows. When this happens, patients can get their doctor to work with the company to determine if the treatment is right for them. If successful, patients can either join a clinical trial or be prescribed the drug through a compassionate use or expanded access program. myTomorrows currently takes a transaction fee for successfully matched patients. The service so far offers access to drugs for various cancers as well as depressive disorders. There is of course a risk involved with unapproved and unregulated drugs, but for those with time-sensitive diseases such as cancer, it could mean they can receive the benefits of treatments 3-8 years before they’re officially available. –

+ Gamified breathing device helps young cystic fibrosis sufferers
To begin, the system must be attached to the patient’s existing equipment. A pressure sensor is placed in the air chamber that monitors inhalation and exhalation. This then connects to a computer via USB, translating the child’s breathing rate into in-game movement. The better the child performs their respiratory therapies, the better they do in the game. Breath and pressure targets can even be adjusted to match the patient’s prescription — as recommended by their doctor — so the therapy can be completely personalized. –

Cyriel Kortleven is an international keynote speaker who inspires his audience to adopt this change-mindset. He has written a Yes And Act manifesto that reflects the open and creative mindset that we need to handle the changes that are happening in a more effective and efficient way.