Steve Jobs once said “…the biggest innovations of the 21st century will be at the intersection of biology and technology”, and if the recent evolution of technology in the life sciences industry is anything to go by, he was completely correct. There are many exciting technologies being developed today – such as artificial intelligence touted to make the drug discovery process infinitely faster, or genome sequencing to make drugs more effective – and they’re only going to become more exciting over the coming years. So what do technology and science have in store for the pharmaceutical industry in the near future? Here are three things to look out for:
Gamification (the practice of using gaming as a vehicle to influence an individual’s behaviour) has been popular in education for a few years, but now it’s beginning to take off in the pharma arena too. Pharma companies are developing platforms with gamification principles in mind (such as reward systems, notification and scoreboards) in order to incentivise patients to use particular products to maximum effect – be it a programme of drugs or an app designed to deliver healthcare services. This is changing the pharma industry significantly, with gamification improving compliance with drug regimes by as much as 52% – and is touted as being the answer to the pharma’s non-adherence crisis.
2 Wearable devices
Wearable tech has been on the market for some time, but now that the technology is becoming ever more sophisticated (and is likely to come down in price, too), the pharma industry can really harness its potential. Devices with integrated sensors can be worn on the body, collecting data about a person’s physiological functions. Not only could this help to treat patients remotely, but also provides pharma companies with a goldmine of useful data to inform drug research and development, patient engagement and drug delivery. Of course, this poses a challenge for pharma companies in the shape of protecting sensitive data, but if companies can bolster their security measures and avoid incidents like this, wearables will undoubtedly change the pharma industry for the better.
3 3D Printing
Doubtless, you’ll have heard about 3D printing and the benefits it has the potential to offer businesses across multiple industries. Well, the pharmaceutical industry will certainly benefit too: the first drug to be printed using 3D printers was Spirtam (a drug used to manage epilepsy) in 2015, and there’s potential to use 3D printing for plenty more too. For example, pharma businesses could take a blueprint of a customised drug (specifically designed for your particular genomes), before a local pharmacy prints it for you. 3D printing also allows for higher doses to be contained in smaller sized pills by carefully building up each layer at the time, changing not only the way that drugs are developed but administered and absorbed too.
Things are always changing in the pharmaceutical industry – whether it’s changing regulatory compliance issues (often the sort of thing life science consultants like Alacrita get involved with), or novel ways of marketing drugs and services with the advent of new platforms and advertising methods, it’s important to keep abreast of new developments. So, keep your eyes peeled for technological developments that are coming in 2018 and beyond.