Healthcare 2019: What the future holds for the Pharma Industry

Medicines continue to form the mainstay of treatment methods for most medical conditions known today, despite some speculations that chemicals in the human body may be self-regulated via nanobots in the future. But that future is still 50 years away. At present, healthcare is still learning to cope with the possibilities of precision medicine and artificial intelligence.

The domestic pharmaceuticals market is said to be the world’s third largest in terms of volume and thirteenth largest by value. Implying that one out of every three tablets available anywhere in the world has been produced by an Indian company. The sector was valued at USD 33 billion in 2017; and by September 2018, the market had grown by 9.7% to tally almost USD 18 billion. The US makes up for 40% of all generic medicine demand from India, while its pharma workforce boasts of great representation in new drug applications and drug master files applications in the country. Healthcare has seen a clear shift toward patient centrality and quality enhancement while pharmaceuticals are moving towards niche products. There are several new areas, which modern pharma employees need to have knowledge of and train themselves to remain relevant and have a sustainable role in tomorrow's industry.

Biosimilars and rare diseases
One of the most exciting opportunities for Indian pharma has developed in the nascent field of biosimilars based on biologics. Biologics are medicines made from living microorganisms found in plant and animal cells. Biosimilars are simply generic versions of popular biologics. Indian companies are already in the race to create these generic versions of biosimilars. No wonder, the market has been growing at a CAGR of 30% year-on-year since 2008. The second largest engagement in pharma is the market for rare diseases which requires specialized medicines with a larger net price to cost value. Today, this industry makes up about 17% of the sector. Treatment of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, inflammation and cancer has seen greater adoption of biologic drugs and improvements as the manufacturability of peptides has fueled new growth in this field. In the future, gene therapy and gene editing through manipulation of RNA will shape the future of the entire pharmaceutical sector.

Precision medicine and microchips lined with human tissue
Mixing living human tissue with microchips has also shown huge potential to revolutionize drug development, disease modeling and customized medicine. Bio printing of human tissues and organs using a liquid matrix bioink that enables life and growth of human cells has shown great promise in healthcare. However, it is believed that 3D printing for drugs can radically alter the face of drug manufacturing, delivery and distribution across remote geographies.

Precision medicine is a technique that combines clinical and molecular inputs to comprehend the underlying basis of disease. This input can be obtained in the form of information collected through genome sequencing reading disease tendencies and risks through associated biomarkers in DNA. Side effects can be minimized by accurate dosages suited to genetic markers in the individual and thus targeted therapies can be developed along those lines.

Mobile health platforms
Another immense pharma phenomenon taking place is the increasing reliance on mobile health technology to conduct clinical research. Smartphones with powerful microprocessors can employ advanced sensors to monitor bodily indices and take biometric readings. Wearable devices with embedded technologies are also being used to gather such data and track heart rates, stress and sleep patterns, temperature, glucose levels, blood oxygen, and many others that could be relayed across always-connected interfaces to doctors and clinicians who can then expand the scope of drug trials to larger cohorts and resultantly draw more representative and accurate health outcomes.

Nanotechnology in healthcare
Nanotechnology has progressed to particles that relay information once ingested to physicians through mobile applications. It might soon be possible to remote control these particles to carry out certain acts in the body such as performing surgeries or seeking out and destroying cancer cells.

Artificial Intelligence and pharmaceutical management
Artificial Intelligence combined with Big Data Analysis enables computer systems to sift quickly through massive amounts of patient data and discover and correlate previously unknown variables and diseases. The system can modify its recommendations based on the learning and continuous inputs it receives in the course of a live monitored therapy program. This process reduces costs for the patient and makes the process of consultation more convenient and non-intrusive. These and many other exciting changes await the pharmaceutical industry practitioner.