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All change: reasons to be cheerful about the future in Pharmaceuticals

Posted on: 27 Apr

The Biotech and Pharmaceutical industries are always changing, and last year was no exception: with many important developments in the industry, technological advances and massive market growth, the sector is the healthiest- and largest- that it’s ever been. Investors are paying more into start-ups than ever before, whilst the culture of innovation is paving the way for smarter new inventions, from CRISPR to biosimilars, which have the potential to transform the way in which we approach healthcare. 

From the UK, which has recently seen huge successes and growth in its position as a Biotech market leader, to the established markets in America, Biotech is having something of a moment, capitalising on favourable market conditions, changing regulations and the new avenues that are opening up thanks to our increased mastery of incredibly complex technology, whilst global spending on Pharmaceuticals is estimated to have increased by $367bn by 2021.

With more growth and innovation on the horizon, here’s a breakdown of why the future for Pharmaceuticals is looking rosy.

1) New markets are opening up

For years, the Biotech market has been dominated by American companies: the US is the largest market in the world for biopharmaceuticals, and actually makes up about a third of the global market, with high levels of investments and access to the world’s largest free-pricing market for pharmaceuticals. 

However, in recent years, new markets have begun evolving. The UK is one of these, ending last year having raised more than twice as much money through IPOs in 2017 than in did last year, making a total of £234 million. Indeed, many are predicting that this year points to a Biotech ‘boom’ in the UK, with more technologically savvy firms and start-ups poised to take advantage of strong investment levels, which have increased six-fold over five years. In addition, its preclinical and clinical pipeline is something that has been touted by various companies and papers as a particular source of strength. 

However, that’s not all: the Indian market is expected to witness huge growth in the future. One of the largest sectors of the Indian economy, there has been heavy investment in attracting new companies and in investing in R&D: the result is that India’s market is expected to grow to be worth $55bn by 2020, emerging as the sixth-largest pharma market in the world. Of particular importance are the BRICMT economies, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, Mexico and Turkey, whose growing interest in Pharmaceuticals will undoubtedly lead to a more diverse, globalised and democratic market in the future- as well as offering international companies the chance to diversify their market offerings and expand into new areas.

2) New developments in technology

The market is changing, and that’s thanks to the huge leaps in technology that are opening up new doors to Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies alike. Of particular interest is the new gene-editing technology CRISPR, which gives scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA, thus opening the door to everything from treating diseases like Huntingdon’s, which was previously thought uncurable, to creating crops that are engineered to yield more fruit.

‘Smart’ technology is another sector that is rapidly gaining ground- in particular, that of AI. From ‘wearable’ Medical Devices that alert a user when they’re going to have a heart-attack, to the rise of big data, AI could be hugely influential if used correctly: and indeed, many start-ups like XtalPi are tapping into this, using advanced AI to sift through huge amounts of patient and clinical trial data in order to develop more sophisticated drugs, and streamline the development process. 

 That’s not all, though: with the use of nanotechnology to perform surgery at a miniscule level, or deliver treatment intravenously, to the development of 3-D printers that can create tailored, 3-D printed drugs and equipment, the future in technology looks to be an exciting one.

3) The rise of orphan drugs and biosimilars

The market is also opening up when it comes to accessing cheaper drugs. Almost all new drugs are patented, which gives the patent-holder exclusive marketing rights for it. However, these drug patents are usually only valid for twenty years, meaning that the patents for many older drugs are now expiring. As a result, rival companies can now manufacture ‘biosimilars’ quickly and cheaply, which are almost identical to the original product but can be sold for much less: not only is it a good way of opening up the market, but it also encourages competition, and benefits the patients by ensuring that they can access a better, more affordable, level of healthcare.

However, to compensate for this many Pharmaceutical companies are turning to another venture to make their money: orphan drugs. This is a market that’s growing rapidly, thanks to increased incentives on the part of various governments, and a market that’s turning its attention to treating niche, rare diseases rather than common ailments. This is exciting news for sufferers with ailments that have previously been untreatable, but the increased length of patent times, and the time it takes to develop a drug, means that prices will also likely be high; however, with these likely to come down over time the market looks to be a lucrative and dynamic one for multiple companies over the coming years, with the market set to hit $200bn before 2022. All in all, it’s an exciting time to be in Pharma! 

Have a look at our post on the rise of orphan drugs here

We’re looking to the future at IQVIA. 

With new technology, new markets and new drugs to patent, the market is looking like a very exciting place for Pharmaceuticals. We want you to be a part of it: have a look at our latest jobs, or browse our posts for more insights.