Drug prices are at an all-time high and research productivity has picked up after a slump two years back. Biosimilars and technological advancements are bringing in a lot of new opportunities into the sector as well.There are no questions about the growth of pharmaceutical industry despite concerns on the pace. According to a report from ProClinical, drug prices are at an all-time high and research productivity has picked up after a slump two years back. Biosimilars and technological advancements are bringing in a lot of new opportunities into the sector as well.
However, there are still certain challenges that pharmaceutical companies need to address as they go forward. Some of these are a direct result of technological advancements while others are market-driven. Here’s an overview of major hurdles ahead of this industry.
The increased efficiency and popularity of consumer-grade health devices like wearable gadgets are helping patients understand their own health conditions better. This has resulted in patients taking a more active role in their treatment beyond what their doctors prescribe.
This brings both challenge and opportunities to the pharmaceutical industry. According to ProClinical, the main challenge for 2019 will be determining how to leverage the power of health technology and shifting focus from partnerships with the medical community to partnerships directly with the consumer.
“In 2019 and beyond, the direct consumer may become the pharmaceutical company’s most strategic partner,” the company said. “When dealing with the consumer, the pharmaceutical company can have an advantage at justifying prices and communicating value. We have seen a shift towards consumerism in recent years with pharmaceutical advertisements, but we can expect this trend to strengthen as drug companies have more opportunity to reach the consumer through wearables and other devices.”
Biosimilars and their future
According to Infinity Research, although biosimilars are able to provide patient care and safety at an affordable cost major pharmaceutical companies are against it because it limits their earnings. ProClinical suggests biosimilars will make up a 20 percent market share in the next five years. But small molecules will continue to hold the bigger market share as the growth of biosimilars limited by patent disputes in many markets.
“Although biosimilars are a growing segment and threaten to take market share from small molecules, there are some challenges to their production,” ProClinical said. “Based on progress to date, the development of biosimilars seems to provide challenges of its own. Despite considerable growth, the market is still in early development and, in some markets, this development is being further slowed by lawsuits over biologic patents. The regulatory processes are not yet solidified either and those that have been developed thus far have required costly clinical trials to gain market approval.”
Market and political concerns
Certain major markets are expected to slow down in the coming years. In the U.S., for instance, growth will be in the single digits through 2021, which is down from 12 percent growth in 2015, according to a report from QuintilesIMS.
Globally, consumption of medicines is expected to rise only 3 percent by 2021, which is not proportionate to the expected rise in population and demographic shifts. The high cost of drugs is a major reason behind this, along with difficulties in accessing emerging markets and the prevalence of generic drugs.
Political uncertainties like Brexit are also a major cause of concern. EU-based pharmaceutical companies who depend on the U.K. for certain supplies are reported to be stockpiling drugs. There are concerns over batch testing, organ and blood supply, and changes to regulations that could limit or slow down the delivery of medicines to the UK after Brexit.