What Does 2020 Have in Store for the Pharma Industry?

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World Map of Pills

As one year closes and another one begins, people are wondering what the coming year will hold for the pharmaceutical industry. BioSpace spoke to leaders from various corners of the industry who provided their insights into what the coming year is likely to hold for their particular sphere.

Below are predictions for four spheres within the industry for the coming year.


Synthetic biology

Synthetic biology is poised to become one of the hot trends for drug design and development. Christina Agapakis, creative director at Ginkgo Bioworks, predicted that in 2020, “synthetic biology will help us find what we’ve been missing, across a whole range of diseases and modalities.” Rob Sarisky of Ginkgo Bioworks, agreed. He said in a statement sent to BioSpace that synthetic biology is enabling the discovery and design of life-saving therapeutics by integrating industrial-scale cellular programming and combinatorial data sets onto robust data analytical sciences frameworks. The impact of the work being conducted at companies like Ginkgo will be seen next year through a new class of next-generation therapeutics that address unmet medical needs, Sarisky said.


Pricing models

With the 2020 elections on the horizon, pricing will certainly continue to be an important discussion in the life sciences, particularly as elected officials are in the midst of crafting legislation that could govern the way government-funded health plans, such as Medicare, pay for drugs. PwC says that in 2020, drug makers will explore new pricing models that fit the needs of new products and healthcare services. With the cost pressure building for years, PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) predicts a 6% medical cost trend. 77% of health services providers direct patients to lower-cost care options and many will investigate implementing new pricing models to ensure consumers are getting value for their health care. The annual report, “Top health industry issues of 2020: Will digital start to show an ROI?” highlights six trends that will impact the healthcare industry in 2020. Those trends include consumer methods to address high drug prices, including ways to spread risk. When it comes to the election, PwC notes that healthcare will dominate the discourse, but said the “implications could vary,” particularly depending on who voters nominated for the Democratic candidacy. Most of the candidates have differing plans to address the approach to drug prices, such as that of presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg. The Trump administration, which has put forth its own plans at different times, including a favored-nations clause, is now backing a plan being crafted in the Senate.

Along with the political in pricing, companies will take a longer look at value-based pricing in the coming year. Jane Reed, director of life sciences at U.K.-based Linguamatics, said companies will be under increased pressure to provide measurable data that their marketed therapeutics are providing success to patients. The companies will be using Real World Data models to demonstrate to payers that the medications are improving the outcomes in a patient population. If a marketed medication is not demonstrating significant outcomes, Reed said companies will have to be prepared to act quickly to address any concerns form payers.


Antibacterial concerns

There is a continued concern over antibiotic resistance. This year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that showed 35,000 Americans die annually from drug-resistant infections. Seed Health CEO Raja Dhir said to combat the threat of bacterial diseases, the biotechnology industry will pivot towards developing live biotherapeutics – living microorganisms designed to help bodies prevent and fight disease. “As antibiotics become increasingly outgunned in the war against infection, scientists will start to look at how to enlist our resident bacteria and their complex toolkit as allies in the fight,” Dhir said in a statement to BioSpace.


Cloud management

Mike Hansen, product solutions manager at AoDocs, said in 2020, the industry will see an “is increased focus on digital transformation across the board.” In content management and quality management, companies will be looking for new methods to protect and preserve their documentation. A lot of current products are based on architecture that is more than 15 years old and Hansen suggests that the industry is set for disruption. While many companies already regulated by the FDA have moved to the use of a cloud-based storage, Hansen said in 2020 there will be a massive push forward in this area. As there are always security concerns, Hansen said there will be new tools to monitor the cloud environment and respond to potential breach attempts. While hackers will continue to try and steal the data, Hansen said the security tools will continue to evolve to become more proactive to prevent data breaches. For job seekers, Hansen said being a data scientist these days is one of the most secure jobs you can have in tech. Those individuals able to leverage computer skills will be in demand, he added.



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