Five trends that dominated pharma in 2020

As we prepare to leave behind a turbulent year and enter what will likely be another 12 months of disruption, Pharma IQ has complied five trends we have witnessed in 2020 to help you hit the ground running in 2021

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The past 12 months have thrown the pharma industry into the digital deep-end as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted standard models of operation. Traditionally slow in the adoption of technology, pharma now spearheads a 4.0 movement of its own, as it took huge strides in the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) to “go beyond the pill” and improve data processes across the digital value chain. 

The pharma industry also made significant efforts to advance its patient-centricity model, closing the research and development (R&D) co-creation gap, which has proved so intrinsic in achieving a balanced patient-brand relationship. 

Read on to discover Pharma IQ’s top five trends that dominated 2020. 

1. AI transformed drug development and discovery process

Using AI in the pharma and biomedical industry has gone from science fiction to science fact. With the AI market in healthcare expected to reach US$31bn by 2025 and growing at a CAGR of 41.5 per cent, pharma and biotech companies are increasingly adopting AI to improve process efficiency and early stage drug discovery. 

For example, Novartis has been embracing advancements in AI technology to transform the standard of care for patients with heart failure and finding new ways to get people access to treatment quickly – a goal that has become ever more important since the novel Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted traditional supply chain distribution. 

2. Advances made in patient-first intentions 

2020 has seen big pharma names such as GSK and Eli Lilly develop patient-centric missions to create truly equal partnerships between patients and healthcare providers. GSK introduced a project called Focus on the Patient to inspire and motivate employees to work in unison with patients. Through a series of remote seminar programs, patients, careers and patient advocates can be involved in research discussions from the offset and provide scientists with a first-hand experience of the diseases being researched. Similarly, Eli Lilly’s value-based arrangement policy was dedicated to putting the patient front and center to improve their access to medicines and treatment.

3. A resilient supply chain was created

The need to modify pharma supply chains for long-term resilience was recognized well before the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, with Covid-19 prompting further customer uncertainty, increased product demand and logistical disruption, supply chain professionals were forced to look to build more resilient supply chains, devoid of critical vulnerabilities, to withstand many dynamic and simultaneous risks.

Bain & Company suggested a pragmatic two-step approach would vastly increase the resilience of existing supply chains. “First, companies need to achieve a complete understanding of the risk that spans across the entire supply chain through increased transparency of material flow,” the company said. “[And] secondly, based on the results of the risk assessments, leadership teams must create new supply chain strategies by reducing the risk exposure or by increasing resilience capabilities – or by doing both.”

4. Digital marketing in pharma became more important than ever 

As pharma companies are advancing their digital capabilities – evident from the first trend on this list – companies are becoming adept in creating the technical infrastructure to deliver digital marketing strategies that demonstrate consumer-value. The pharma industry is no longer being rewarded for blockbuster drugs and are instead being recognized for establishing brand-value with its patients. 

Heidi Padilla, Director of Customer Engagement at GSK, told Pharma IQ that to enhance your digital marketing capabilities you must “take an immediate human-centered approach”. 

“By incorporating a design-thinking approach into a marketing strategy will ensure you are considering the value of the patient in your processes and working in partnership with the patient [to develop your brand value] from the very beginning,” Padilla remarked. 

5. Data fuelled digitization of pharma 

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to telemedicine and remote healthcare taking on a new significance in the pharma industry, powering the importance of data and digital tools to improve health and wellbeing. Data has played a central role in overcoming the Covid-19 crisis, tracking and tracing outbreaks of infection and generating unprecedented amounts of information for researchers to utilize to develop a vaccine.

An article analyzing the usefulness of data during Covid-19 detailed: “The pandemic has shattered widespread assumptions that the type and scope of health information exchange is only a marginal consideration in healthcare, and is highlighting the importance of health information technology and data interoperability [to take the pharma industry to the stage of the digitization process].” 

Continue to drive growth at scale in 2021 using digital innovation in the lab. Attend the fourth edition of Smart Lab Digital as we tackle some of the key challenges affecting manufacturing, data management and R&D to ensure pharma companies and industry leaders can reset for growth in the lab beyond coronavirus. Claim your free early bird ticket today.