With a capital of more than 1.2 billion at stake and the pace of technological disruption, the pharmaceutical industry is adapting quickly to the new times.

With advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), patient training, and medicines printed in 3D, find out below 5 pharmaceutical trends that will be the focus of this industry in the coming years.

AI for drugs R&D

A recent report predicts that global artificial intelligence in the healthcare market will reach the $ 31.3 billion barrier by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41.5% over a forecast period.

Companies like Atomwise, Turbine, and Deep Genomics use artificial intelligence to identify the most suitable drugs for certain conditions, doing so in record time and at the same time reducing costs.

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An excellent example is that of Atomwise, providing its algorithm to carry out drug research in the development of a treatment for Ebola infections, in partnership with the University of Toronto and IBM. The algorithm predicted two drugs that could significantly reduce Ebola infectivity. This analysis, which would normally take months or even years, was completed in less than a day.

Patient involvement in advisory boards and drug design

In the not too distant future, pharmaceutical companies must involve patients in drug design, testing, and even decision-making to better meet their needs. After all, their medications are intended for the final consumer and it will be beneficial for both parties to have better-prepared medications for maximum convenience for patients in a more regulated manner.

An example that we can cite is that of diabetic patients. Diabetics created the “#wearenotwaiting” movement by following unfulfilled promises from medical technology companies and regulators to provide innovative products to better meet their needs. The community decided not to wait any longer and resolve the problem with their own hands. This move has led to initiatives like the open-source artificial pancreas (DIY), discussion platforms like DiabetesMine, and cloud-based solutions like Tidepool, which make diabetes data more accessible and actionable.

Meeting the demands of the patient, the FDA approved the first artificial pancreas two years after the open-source artificial pancreas was made available to the public. By further embracing patient input, the FDA has created its own patient engagement advisory board.

Another example is the creation of online platforms such as Antidote, which searches for participants and associates them with appropriate clinical trials, thus reducing costs incurred due to delays in locating participants.

In silico tests

In addition to in vivo and in vitro experiments, now we will also have in silico, which are experiments carried out through computer simulation. When running drug tests on computers that simulate organs, this technology can completely bypass clinical testing in vivo. In addition to time and cost-effectiveness, in silico trials completely bypass animal testing and side effects in human and animal participants.

The VPH Institute (Virtual Physiological Human) has also created digital models that are already in use to study heart disease and osteoporosis. According to Liesbet Geris, executive director of the VPH Institute, the FDA is already preparing for a future where more than 50% of all clinical trial data is generated from computer simulations.

New technologies in the supply chain

As noted earlier, AI can reduce drug development time from years to days, saving costs and time, while shortening the drug production cycle to reach patients more quickly. Integrating with robotics, the intention is to further shorten this cycle.

Companies like Denso Robotics offer robots to automate tasks in manufacturing processes. Robotics, in the form of exoskeletons, can further increase the production done in manual labor, assisting them with heavy loads and supporting them to withstand long hours of standing or other uncomfortable positions. The robots are already in use in pharmacies as aids to dispensers, such as PharmASSIST ROBOTx.

Pills: new drug strategies

Instead of focusing on the manufacture and marketing of traditional medicines, pharmaceutical companies will focus on newer approaches, which rely on technology to attract more suppliers and payers. The “around the pill” strategy is one such approach. It refers to going beyond just producing and selling medicines as they are, but developing medicine and attaching digital health technology to it.

An example of this strategy is the partnership between Partners Healthcare Center and the Japanese pharmaceutical company Daichii-Sankyo for a “mobile” anticoagulant drug prescribed for atrial fibrillation. It involves a wearable monitoring device and an app for feedback from doctors and other automated ones from the app itself.

Pharmaceutical giant Roche also saw potential in this technology-centric approach. In an attempt to boost its diabetes unit, the company ingeniously paired the mySugr app it acquired in 2017 with Roche's Accu-Chek Guide glucose meter, allowing diabetics to have a different, gamified experience to control their condition.

By recording their blood glucose levels, and completing tasks and challenges, users can “tame their diabetic monster”. It is a different approach than Marcel Gmuender, head of the diabetes treatment unit at Roche, who predicts that “the way forward will mean selling a total experience, not just a product”.

Source: Medical Futurist