A decade of decline and transition

The past decade has brought massive changes in our knowledge of science and technology, which has driven improvements in health care outcomes and affected stakeholder expectations of the role of the biopharmaceutical industry (biopharma). While biopharma companies continue to develop increasing numbers of innovative life-enhancing and life-saving therapies, the cost of paying for these treatments has come under increasing scrutiny from payers, providers and patients.

At the same time, constraints around market access and pricing, changing patterns of demand and continuing downward pressure on health care budgets, have presented the industry with a volatile and highly uncertain economic environment in which to operate, let alone drive productivity improvements.

The changing prevalence of chronic diseases, including the rise of age-related diseases such as dementia and cancer, has led to many people living longer but with more complex co-morbidities. Our increasing knowledge of science – particularly advances in genomics – and the fact that we know drugs do not work the same way in everyone has uncovered a growing number of areas of unmet need. As a result, the demand on existing drugs and the search for new therapies has increased, and, at the same time has attracted the attention of payers and policy maker as to the cost-effectiveness and affordability of new treatments.

In the future, biopharma will need to adapt to survive and thrive

As health care increasingly moves from treatment to prevention and even cure, building robust evidence to back health care claims, as well as improving relationships with patients based on trust, is essential to obtaining both regulatory approval and patient engagement.

In addition, the past ten years have seen a growing number of ‘new entrants’ competing with big pharma for patients and patients’ data, including developing new approaches to treatment. Big tech companies, as well as innovative start-ups, are using complex digital tools and algorithms to try and help patients stay healthy and manage their conditions more effectively. Meanwhile, biopharma companies are beginning to embrace a truly patient-centric approach, establishing alternative approaches to disease management and a more proactive approach to regulation.

The latter part of this decade has continued to be increasingly challenging but also very innovative. The future of biopharma innovation section evaluates some of the key drivers that could help deliver a sustainable future for biopharma R&D.

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