In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, and due to its role in drug development, the pharmaceutical industry has become one of society’s most relevant sectors.
However, like other industries, the pharmaceutical sector has had to adapt to digitalization to survive, especially with the arrival of pharm tech. So, it has begun implementing technology in research and drug development processes.
The digitalization of the pharmaceutical industry helps meet consumers’ growing demand for agility, speed, flexibility, and customization. And this context has given rise to pharm tech companies; pharmaceutical startups focused on implementing a new 5P medicine model (personalized, predictive, preventive, participatory, and population-based).
This model is centered around each patient, so their disease is not treated generically. Instead, patients get treatment tailored to their particular needs and conditions.
Each individual’s immunological response to a specific disease is different, so the number one priority at the moment is to focus on greater personalization while reducing research times and speeding up drug development.
This digital transformation of the sector, also known as Pharma 4.0, aims to take the pharmaceutical industry to a new level.
What is Pharma 4.0, and how is it changing the pharmaceutical sector?
Faced with patients’ demand for faster and more personalized medicine development, pharm tech companies have entered the market to promote the concept of Pharma 4.0.
The goal is to digitalize the pharmaceutical sector to streamline research, improve drug production, and optimize drug logistics using technology such as Big Data or Artificial Intelligence.
Pharma 4.0 aims to merge pharmaceutical manufacturing with information and communication technologies to produce better patient products and services.
Obtaining data in real-time and storing it securely increases competitiveness, optimizes time, and monitors production, eliminating silos and providing the required information immediately.
In addition, the predictive and machine learning systems used by Pharma 4.0 reduce the environmental impact of drug manufacturing, optimize processes, and cut costs.
Benefits of Pharma 4.0
Pharma 4.0 offers several benefits to pharmaceutical companies, healthcare professionals, suppliers, and patients. Here are some of them:
- It makes it possible to customize drugs to provide solutions to specific problems, streamline processes, and meet patient demands quickly.
- It facilitates work between industry professionals and tools such as predictive systems to reach more solid conclusions. It also offers greater process transparency and compliance with current standards and legal regulations.
- It enables the automation and digitalization of the manufacturing process and drives better production levels. It also allows the adoption of new innovative approaches through the massive use of data and artificial intelligence.
- It enables greater efficiency in drug research and testing.
- It eliminates silos that result in higher costs later on.
The role of Pharma 4.0 in the revolution of the pharmaceutical sector
Pharmtechs’ commitment to Research and Development (R&D) has been vital for this sector.
Thanks to tech-driven digital transformation, drug development processes can be smarter, faster, more efficient, and more sustainable.
Reducing clinical trial times
Drug development processes can take up to 12 years and cost between $1.9 billion and $3.2 billion. Currently, the success rate of clinical trials is less than 12% due to inefficiency or resource waste.
The adoption of innovative technologies by pharmaceutical startups seeks to transform clinical trials through artificial intelligence, improving success rates and reducing times.
Adopting smart technology
To set themselves apart from traditional pharmaceutical companies, pharm techs use technology to gain a competitive edge and improve pharmaceutical and administrative processes and services for patients.
Technology is being implemented at different stages, from research and production to distribution and communication.
Pharm techs use pioneering technologies such as Big Data, the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing, robotics or smart hardware, machine learning, and smart chatbots.
This enables pharmaceutical tech companies to access more data, which is crucial in accelerating drug development.
Similarly, pharmaceutical technology makes it possible to anticipate patients’ needs and offer better care and support.
The 4.0 change in administrative processes
Another transformation undertaken by pharmaceutical tech companies is administrative digitalization. When we talk about digitalization, corporate administration is often left aside.
However, the pharmaceutical industry could benefit from digitalizing several administrative tasks. And pharm techs have taken the lead in this regard.
Several bureaucratic tasks can slow manufacturing processes, such as signing labor and commercial documents, issuing invoices, delivering notes and minutes, or executing assignment or purchase contracts.
Tech companies have transformed and streamlined administrative processes through technology, specifically digital signatures. This helps pharm techs prevent the loss of materials and have more exhaustive control over their logistics.
Trends that tech companies have adopted to change the future of the pharmaceutical industry
According to Statista, the online pharma market is expected to exceed $128 billion by 2023.
The Covid-19 crisis has driven the digital transformation of this sector, forcing pharm techs to adapt to new customer demands.
First, there’s been a radical change in communication with patients thanks to omnichannel experiences, which were essential during confinement to reach consumers efficiently.
Similarly, e-commerce boomed: the benefits of e-pharma played a crucial role during the worst stages of the pandemic, but they are also transforming the doctor-patient relationship in the post-covid era.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning social media, which has redefined the sector with new marketing and communication strategies. Social media platforms are a great tool to inform patients of new schedules and the latest developments as well as offer them support.
Although pharm techs have already adopted some of these technologies, new trends are expected to emerge during 2022 that will challenge the industry in new ways. These are some of the most promising ones:
The potential applications of artificial intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry are endless. Tech companies are using AI to optimize drug research and production.
Machine learning, natural language processing, and other tools allow companies to predict demand, optimize logistics and inventory, and research new market trends.
Artificial intelligence is also a game-changer in marketing, enabling highly personalized campaigns through more targeted and compelling messages to consumers.
Virtual reality is one of the most robust trends in the pharmaceutical sector.
This tool streamlines research and drug development processes by allowing different professionals in the sector to share information and reach better results.
Virtual reality also has other future applications in drug development, such as virtual twins, a virtual replica of a product that aims to simulate a prototype to assess its feasibility.
One of the major goals of tech companies is to digitalize the sale of medicine and drugs.
Right now, the only way to obtain these products is in physical establishments. However, consumers want to be able to buy them through platforms such as Amazon.
To make that possible, it’s necessary to develop systems or platforms that allow cross-referencing patient data and prescriptions.
Nowadays, most companies have their own app.
Tech companies are focused on creating native applications to connect with customers, offer new products, make recommendations, provide drug information, monitor patients, and, more importantly, obtain the data needed to identify diseases or symptoms through AI.
Native apps can also help pharmacists with new research and product sales. Through these apps, pharmacists could obtain up-to-date information on different medications.
The cloud is a rising star in many industries.
The pharmaceutical sector handles a massive amount of data, which is why cloud systems completely revamped the industry’s business models.
Tech companies have harnessed cloud computing to get critical information in real-time, access the databases of pharmaceutical professionals, and obtain data on the manufacturing process of drugs.
Technology has completely changed the playing field in the pharmaceutical industry.
This industry’s main challenge is the digitalization of legacy practices to welcome Pharma 4.0.
Traditional companies will have to adapt to survive and gain a competitive advantage in a market where technology plays a vital role.
The possibility of reducing drug development times is excellent news for the entire sector because, despite the economic variable, the primary motivation behind drug development is providing more efficient healthcare to save lives.