Good things come in threes. (Omne trium perfectum, for those who know their Latin.)
That includes the key messages from CPI’s PharmaTech Integrates, which took place last week at the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) and the National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland (NMIS) in Glasgow.
Attended by the widest possible network of pharma innovators, regulators, supply chain partners, and technology providers, this is a conference that anyone interested in pushing the industry forward should pay attention to.
Luckily, XpertRule had eyes on the scene to extract the key messages coming from PharmaTech’s pioneers…
PharmaTech in three key words
Dave Tudor, Managing Director of CPI Pharma, set the theme of the conference with three words to sum up the state of PharmaTech today:
The acceleration that the pharma industry is seeing in terms of innovation, driven largely by AI and digital technologies. Deep tech innovation is reshaping the pharma industry, offering unprecedented possibilities to revolutionize the things that matter: drug development, treatment approaches, and patient care. While we may not quite be at the peak levels of 2020 and 2021 in terms of investment, $57bn in 2022 is nothing to sniff at.
The consensus from those within the industry is that it has a responsibility in bringing down the cost of key treatments and medicines for patients, and increasing fairness - for example, removing the disparity across geographies on how much people are paying for medicines. This sentiment is also pretty unanimous: executives at PharmaTech Integrates agree that innovation and digital tech can be the driving force in making the industry fairer. In other words, innovation in pharma isn’t just a nice-to-have or a flight-of-fancy: it’s a responsibility to patients everywhere.
But innovation isn’t just a sullen duty, either - it’s exciting! There’s a buzz in the air in Glasgow about the level of innovation and advances that are being made within the pharma industry. And so there should be, major reports by Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and World Economic Forum have all outlined that we are at the cusp of a new Pharma Era fuelled by cutting-edge technologies.
Three key challenges facing pharma innovation
It can’t all be sunshine and lollipops. There are some major obstacles to successful digitalisation that CPI addressed at PharmaTech Integrates.
- Is the juice worth the squeeze?
However much excitement and acceleration there may be about PharmaTech Innovation, the problem still remains that many large digital initiatives are not delivering the returns to justify the investments made - despite 2020 and 2021 being boom years in terms of investment. Data remains a significant issue, particularly the challenge of getting organisations to share data across the supply chain for mutual benefit. The global pharma industry has grown more than sixfold in the last decade, and part of this growth has seen supply chains become increasingly global, complex and opaque. Can technology overcome these data concerns and increase trust and transparency across the supply chain? Can data solution services provided by organisations such as the Global Value Web connect the dots and improve value chains?
- Regulatory costs on the rise
As we move towards widespread personalised medicine, there is plenty of concern around the cost of regulation. For example, in Gene Therapy there is a critical case of the treated genes being returned to the original gene owner and most of the regulatory trail is paper. This means that the cost for one treatment is the same as a pharmaceutical dose for 200,000. Automating audit trails and risk mitigation therefore presents a huge opportunity for cost reduction when it comes to handling regulatory obligations.Crucially, this can help manufacturers batch release with ease. There is a huge amount of paper and manual effort associated with meeting compliance standards and mitigating the risk of poor quality, particularly when manufacturing a batch release. This presents a huge opportunity for decision intelligence to both digitise and automate these complex workflows. Doing so can bring down the cost of production in key areas such as drug development and gene therapy – which ultimately benefits the patient.
- Beware of super-optimisation
It may sound appealing, but super-optimisation comes with baggage. If you super-optimise a process, then it can become more fragile. This is particularly true in critical supply chain processes that are now running too ‘lean’: if one element fails, then the entire process can break. Equally, minor changes to inputs can have a far reaching impact on the overall output or end product.Potential solutions to the super-optimisation problem include modelling and simulation. The question is, can simulation be used to stress-test the fragility of the supply chain and proactively identify risks, which can then be addressed to improve the robustness of the process?
Three keys to successful digitalisation
Let’s finish on another three, because - as previously stated - good things come in them.
According to XpertRule's Iain Crosley, successful digitalization in pharma depends on three key steps:
- Start with the business problem, not the technology
- Figure out the best approach to solve the problem, and then breaking down silos to deliver effectively
- Ensure adequate quality and consistency of data
Agree with the above? Want to discuss more?