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‘The more we collaborate, the greater we trust in each other’

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What lies ahead for the global pharma sector? Andrew Meade, Accenture UK&I Life Sciences lead, shares his insight with Health Tech World

What sort of development do we expect for new commercial models for pharma in five years and what will it look like in 10 years?

COVID-19 has been a watershed moment for innovation in life sciences, and new commercial models are at the peak of this. In the immediate future, the ability to harness data, real-world evidence and advanced analytics to gain a better understanding of drug efficacy will shape the commercial pharma model moving forward. This will make commercial engagement more patient-centric and outcomes-based. By arming pharmas with the insights from real-world evidence, they can offer services around medicines that enhance the outcome and in turn, improve commercial effectiveness. 

Essential to this is collaboration, data availability and data sharing across the life sciences ecosystem. Currently, the industry is challenged by data silos. The constraints around rules of data sharing, availability of data and having the rights tools and technology to unlock the necessary insights from patient data and real-world evidence need to be addressed. 

Which global brands are the ones to watch?

Amongst global pharmaceutical centres, the UK has emerged from the pandemic as a dominant player in the global life sciences industry, becoming the envy of the world with the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccination programme so far. It is not a coincidence that two of the FTSE100’s ten most valuable companies are British pharmaceutical companies – AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline. It’s exciting to see these powerhouses doubling down on areas such as oncology, neurotherapies and biologics to drive innovation and change. These medicines have clearly come out of a real hunger to excel, with science in their heart. 

Along with global powerhouses, it’s great to see up and coming brands in life sciences doing exciting things to advance medicine and patient outcomes. Alexion is a good example here, which is dedicated to delivering transformative medicines to support those with rare diseases, which AZ announced an intention to acquire in December 2020 for a consideration of $39 billion. 

More broadly, digitalisation, collaboration and innovation will underpin the industry’s future and distinguish its winners and losers. There has been great engagement here so far, but developing this further will unlock bigger opportunity for pharma companies to become more integrated into the patient experience and better support healthcare professionals. 

Are there any impediments to the pace of change?

Shifting focus to the virus has provided distraction in therapeutic areas outside of vaccines and it is vital that the industry continues to drive broader drug development forward as we begin to look beyond the pandemic. Greater speed and efficiency in clinical trials and the supply chain will be essential to accelerating development that has been slowed by the pandemic and alleviating the huge pressure on vaccine availability and delivery. Improved use and availability of data will be paramount to achieving this. 

There is a great opportunity to build on the digital capabilities we have seen the industry embrace over the course of the last year. Reverting back to pre-pandemic levels of digital adoption will severely impede the pace of change and the scale of opportunity. For example, we see cloud as being a critical enabler to future growth in life sciences, yet the sector has been slow to adopt it. There needs to be a shift in mindset from cloud being focused solely on reducing costs to driving new ways of data-enabled working across the entire organisation, not just the IT function. This is vital to ensuring pharmas can withstand future change. Also, improving the availability of patient data is a key enabler to advances in life sciences and the problematic data siloes that underpin the industry need to be addressed. Without better data access across the industry, we will not be able to share insights and outcomes for the good of the patient and future science. 

COVID-19 has presented the world with many challenges, but it has also forced us to up the pace at which we collaborate and embrace the digital world. It is my aspiration that the positive aspects of these changes continue their acceleration. The industry should not revert to pre-pandemic levels of collaboration and must build on the unifying partnerships we’ve seen across life sciences, which has had a profound impact on trust across the sector. The more we collaborate, the greater we trust in each other.   

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