2016 has proved to be yet another eventful year for the pharmaceutical industry.
As predicted by many analysts and market watchers, pharmaceutical businesses continued to move at an accelerated pace to outsourcing as they sought to reduce costs whilst searching for that elusive ‘innovative’ spark.
The increase in outsourcing naturally led to more collaboration, and this is something I’m certain will—in time—help advance drug discovery as companies share costs, unlock greater creativity, and drive further efficiencies.
Improved technology and informatics, particularly those delivered through SaaS platforms and a ‘cloud first’ strategy, have been pivotal for companies ensuring effective collaboration throughout 2016. But while not everyone is there yet, I have been surprised at the rate at which our customers, both large and small, are now embracing this change with an ever-increasing sense of urgency.
On top of the broader informatics pieces, this year also saw the issue of data integrity brought to the forefront of the industry following the Semler Research data corruption incident.
In response to the Semler incident, the FDA issued new draft guidance for the pharmaceutical industry to help clarify ‘the role of data integrity in current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) for drugs.’ In the future, this guidance will prompt organizations to implement systems that help regulate and protect intellectual property (IP) and clearly define which collaborating party contributed to which aspect of work.
From an IDBS perspective, it’s been great to see that many of the technology predictions we made have come to pass, meaning we have been able to really engage and help our customers on their journeys this year.
So, with the end of 2016 fast approaching, what will 2017 look like for the pharmaceutical industry?
I think much of what we have seen in 2016 will continue into 2017 and beyond. However, based on our conversations with customers and other industry players, we’re sure that there will be more changes on the way.
For our smaller biotech customers, 2017 is likely to bring ‘more of the same,’ with organizations looking to be the first to bring a novel therapeutic or technology to the forefront—some will be aiming for IPOs and others will consider acquisitions. In both scenarios, having data in a good structure and in place will be vital in easing the due diligence stages.
Another really interesting space that will advance in 2017 will be the realization of the ‘lab of the future.’
This is a term that has been bandied around for a number of years but, with even more connected devices, instruments, and environments in use, we really will see a step change in the productivity of labs as routine tasks are automated and Machine to Machine (MtM) communication picks up. Having software systems that are also able to play an orchestration role will be critical. The future here looks exciting!
Software will become increasingly ‘social’ in 2017, allowing researchers to comment and build on each other’s work in real-time by adopting familiar social media features whilst operating in the cloud. I predict software providers will start to blend these familiar functions into their solutions, which would enable faster adoption of new technologies and speed up collaboration.
With software becoming increasingly ‘social,’ many pharmaceutical and life science organizations are struggling with how social media will change the way they operate at a corporate level.
C3i’s Social Media in Life Sciences: Adoption and Trends report surveyed 30 global pharmaceutical and life science professionals at Director and C-level and found that only 13 percent viewed their current social media programs as ‘very effective’ or ‘extremely effective.’
Interactions with customers through social media—by linking to tangible research information and insights—can provide many opportunities for growth. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if (and how) organizations use social media as we progress through 2017. It’s certainly another area to keep an eye on.
Finally, analytics and data visualization tools will undergo a metamorphosis next year, seamlessly linking with lab instruments to automatically process vast streams of data. Streamlining reporting and making data more digestible will help accelerate innovation. If the pace of change in 2016 is an indication of what’s to come, I’m optimistic about the potential of 2017.
About the Author
Laurence, Vice President of Product Management & Marketing at IDBS, is responsible for the overall strategy and direction for all IDBS products. Bringing over thirteen years of product and marketing experience, he has a proven track record in building productive, high quality teams who deliver innovative, commercial solutions to market on time. Laurence has a degree in Mathematics and Applied Physics from Kingston University.