What Is The Future Of Pharma? 12 Experts Share Their Insights

  • 30 June 2019
  • Sam Mire

Modern medicine is nothing short of miraculous, especially compared with the medicine of even a decade or two ago. But medicine can always be better, and the pharmaceutical branch of the healthcare industry plays a bigger role than ever in our everyday lives. With the benefits and detriments of pharmaceuticals well-documented, one question remains: where does Pharma go from here?

These industry insiders and keen observers share their insights on where the future of pharma lies. Here's what they have to say:

1. Paul Tunnah, founder and CEO of Pharmaphorum 

“The future of pharma is about embracing technology and a much broader definition of  medicines’, which includes greater focus on prevention (driven by the growth of personal diagnostics via smart devices), digital health and digital medicines / therapeutics (for example, use of cognitive behavioural therapy chatbots for managing depression or apps that help diabetes patients monitor and manage their blood sugar levels). Smart pharma companies are making moves into these spaces to build partnerships with external players and internal capabilities.”

2. VIvek Ramaswamy, founder and CEO of Roivant Sciences

“At present, large pharma companies develop medicines in two principal ways. The first is centralized, command-and control R&D. This has historically proven to be a low ROI endeavor. Pharmaceutical R&D productivity has been steadily falling for over 50 years: this is what is known within the industry as “Eroom’s Law”—Moore’s Law in reverse. In response to this trend, pharma companies have increasingly turned to a second approach: M&A, purchasing existing smaller biotech companies. This had had a more mixed result. While there have been notable successes often offset by the premium prices typically paid for these companies.

I predict that the pharma company of the future will not be a single company but rather a decentralized family of companies akin to Alphabet or Tencent, building innovative biotech companies from scratch while making long-term investments in a shared technology platform—harvesting economies of scale where appropriate, but also maintaining entrepreneurial focus at individual companies.”

3. Barby Ingle, President of the International Pain Foundation

“The future I see with the pharmaceutical industry is individualizing care. Instead of making medications for diseases, they will make medications that work for the individual patients taking us and our specific needs into account. There must be a biological component taken into consideration in pharma advancements. The growth of pharmacogenomics will become a critical need. These bio-medications will take into account the .03% DNA difference in each of us that accounts for why one option works better for a person. Taking into consideration that there are more than 50 million DNA variations we can now better understand why some patients have a sensitivity to a particular medication and why the effectiveness of a great medication can still be effective in only 60% of a patient disease population.”

4. Dominic Viola, Executive Director, Client Services at W2O Group

“The future of pharma is primarily being driven by consumer engagement. We now know that patients who are more informed about their condition and involved in their treatment decisions, will in most cases, have better health outcomes. With unlimited access to information, patients are more knowledgeable than ever before, making healthcare providers more informed, and therefore better equipped to manage a disease or even avoid it altogether. Moving from more of a reactionary state (reacting to symptoms or patient complaints) to a more informed or predictable state.”

5. Kevin Lawler, VP of Sales at Pelican BioThermal

“The pharmaceutical industry is already focusing intently on developing biological drugs because they are generally more effective than traditional chemical-based therapies. However, biologics are more sensitive to temperature variations, which makes shipping them more complex, risky and potentially costly.”

6. Sharoni Billik,  founder & CEO of SBHC 

“I would summarize that the future of pharma is in continued development in immuno-oncology and non-opioid pain therapy.

There will be increased attention to cost and abrupt cost increases. There will be more open dialogue and in the same token, scrutiny, on pricing and fairly, the middle-men or pharmacy benefit managers.

The Trump administration's directive that all DTC television advertising that identifies a prescription medicine by name should include information or direction as to where patients can find information about the cost of the medicine, such as a company-developed website, including the list price and average, estimated or typical patient out-of-pocket costs, or another context about the potential cost of the medicine, is hugely impactful.”

7. Melonie Warfel, VP and General Manager, Life Sciences at Model N

“Worldwide prescription drug sales are forecast to reach $1.2 trillion by 2024, reflecting 6.4% CAGR from 2018-2024. Growth is driven by increased contribution from orphan drugs as they will grow to 20% of the prescription drug market. Additional growth drivers include improved access to medicines in emerging markets as a result of new pricing policies around the world. Factors hindering growth include payer scrutiny and the threat of price control, and generic and biosimilar competition. Emphasis on strategically working with regulators to reduce or at least stabilize prices for vulnerable populations continue to occupy regulators in the U.S. and worldwide.”

8. Mark Emalfarb, CEO of Dyadic

“A major focus of Pharma going forward will be a move toward instituting new manufacturing technologies to produce biologic drugs and vaccines. The goal of harnessing these technologies will be to avoid the relatively high production cost and low efficiency inherent in conventional methods of drug production. The industry is poised to embrace alternative cell lines that can operate many times faster and cheaper in order to speed up the development and potentially bring down the cost of the end product: medicines for human use. A future marked by greater access to needed
medicines among the patient population could result.”

9. Shital Mars, CEO of Progressive Care

“The future of Pharma is digitization and consolidation. The Pharma industry as a whole is moving toward consolidation with more and more manufacturers, PBMs, pharmacies merging with one another to achieve control over data and market share. With more data in the hands of fewer players, we will begin to see more automation and digitization of supply chains and patient interactions.”

10. Rutesh Shah, co-founder and CEO of Infostretch

“Technology will be major catalyst in the evolution of the entire Life Sciences industry, especially Pharma. The ability to enhance existing systems, both internal and external facing, will create unprecedented
enhancements in the operations of these organizations and patient efficacy. We can already see these trends taking shape as the pharma industry is expected to see annual compound growth of over 6% and reach $1.2 trillion in 2024, with R&D spending at 16.9% ofprescription sales in 2024.”

11. Joel Selzer, Cofounder and CEO of ArcheMedX

“Pharma will become increasingly reliant on digital tools and data-driven strategies from drug development through commercialization. For example, the increasing use of advanced data analytics and deep learning will allow Pharma to more effectively design and implement clinical trials that result in more personalized and consumable therapies that benefit patients and providers. From digital therapeutics to advanced protocol simulations, Pharma will be able to more rapidly and accurately analyze novel sources of data that will inform better decision making, decrease the costs of clinical trials, and provide the right therapies to the right patients.”

12. John Bermudez, General Manager of Digital Network Platform at TraceLink

“The future of pharma is curing previous uncurable diseases with new Cell and Gene Therapies.  Cell and Gene Therapies rely on the administration of genetic material to modify or manipulate the expression of a gene product or properties of living cells. Gene Therapy is the introduction, removal, or change in the structure of a patient’s genetic code to treat or cure a disease.  Cell Therapy is the transfer of live cells into a patient to help lessen or cure a disease. The cells may originate from the patient (autologous cells) or a donor (allogeneic cells). As Cell and Gene Therapy manufacturing differs considerably from chemical drug production, pharma companies will have to develop new processes to address the challenges along key phases of the product life cycle.”


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About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Disruptor Daily. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.