Emerging Innovations for Pharmaceutical Industry in 2018

Across the world, pharmaceutical and biotech firms are creating transformational models for drug delivery and use that are sustainable in the long run and can deliver healthcare innovations and solutions to all stakeholders at large. We take a stab at how pharmaceutical industry would shape up on emerging innovations both processual and in products in 2018.

The ‘Patient first’ Strategy

2018 would be the year when the patient becomes the rallying cry in the pharmaceutical industry. The entire top down model of drug availability will now make way for a flexible and interactive model wherein the patient receives better tools and focused information about drugs to manage clinical conditions. This business model helps drug companies reduce errors in developing medicines and secure a better chance with health regulatory and commercial sectors of operation in societies across the world. Navigating the entire healthcare system will be easy since drug availability is now tied to patient results. Biotech companies will opt for patient centricity and phase out push marketing when introducing drug invention in the market. The entire industry is set to focus on content, value led services that support long term engagement and rapport with patients. More and more pharmaceutical companies will focus on innovative pricing and alternative payment plans.

Efficient Health Data Mining

The next critical area of innovation in the pharmaceutical trade will be about streamlining the process of mining patient information. Health data mining is extremely difficult and needs an efficient data analytics that gathers information about patients, day-to-day compliance with treatments / drugs and records drug allergies. Most patients are sensitive and would not like to share personal information with anyone, but better medical aid is possible if a detailed medical history of patients is shared by doctors with drug companies. The idea is to make the patient data available to drug companies and eventually the health regulators for macro medical management. Better drugs need situational analysis of local medical climates and individual patient history. These include private, public and individual players in the healthcare domain.

Health service tools and Patient Friendly Apps

A vast array of tools combined with online portals and mobile apps can access patient data and foster better communication between drug developers, doctors and users. The healthcare space also will see a blitz of patient friendly equipment such as vital signs tracking devices, remotely monitored biosensors, noninvasive diagnostics and miniature implants. Some big ticket pharmaceutical companies are also in the process of developing smartphone apps, to feel the pulse of the end user and survey them on pain levels and disease symptoms. These apps will also prescribe medication schedules to track the onslaught of disease and therefore chart recovery schedules.

Relying Heavily on Patient Behavior

Most pharmaceutical companies will invest heavily on patient behavior and their decision making. These will enable drug makers to track patient compliance and ‘activate’ relevant customer information. Innovation in medicine is a process and not just a mindset.

Accelerating Drug Discovery

Accelerating Drug Discovery

Accelerating the pace of drug development comes in next as the main approach for drug companies. One of the most notable shifts in 2018 is the investment in developing multiple indications and treatments in a clinical setting wherein the drugs get to the patient faster. Since there are several studies in disease biology across the world, drug scientists develop several molecular pathways and test a host of compounds simultaneously to cater to patients fast. Innovation costs of drugs are going up each year. There needs to a partnership across industry, academia and government to make every innovation money work hard.

Artificial Intelligence and R&D

Using complex algorithms Artificial Intelligence can help machines decipher and unravel raw and complex health data by detecting patterns. This makes AI, machine learning and deep learning the right fit for mining genotypic and phenotypic data retrieved from public and private health databases, academic health research journals and wearable health monitoring devices. Implementing AI is going to be the best game changer for the industry in 2018. AI is set to be integrated into R&D operations. The infusion of AI into the drug manufacturing process will reduce the time taken for medicine discovery and increase its clinical success rate. Drug discovery till date is very time and money consuming. AI should identify causal genes and pathways for critical diseases and help in genomic sequencing. R&D processes will be streamlined henceforth reducing the failure rate in medicine research.


Pharmaceutical companies are steadily making the shift to using nanotechnology to help counter cancer inside patients and also perform surgical tasks internally. Nanotechnology refers to microscopic technology that can be found in the scale of 1 to 100 nanometers and can easily travel in the human blood stream. These nano-particles can send signals to doctors on whether the medication has already been taken and fed back to the mobile app used by the doctor. The drug manufacturers are producing these nano-particles. They are collaborating with medical researchers to investigate the use of nanobots or robots that can be pre programmed to perform tasks inside a human body after being ingested.

3D Printing

A lot of pharmaceutical companies are producing 3D print pills that come in various shapes. These drugs appear in different pyramid or even in doughnut shapes and release drugs inside the body at various levels. The rate of drug release is dependent on surface area to volume ratio and is manufactured with special production techniques. This kind of a drug reconsiders the entire way a drug is manufactured and administered to patients with grave illnesses.

Immediate Value or Better Outcomes in the Long run?

Drugs will be marketed quickly and there will be more years of patent protected market exclusivity. Though drug patents these days last about 20 years, the period of initial filing to regulatory approval leaves only a few years for manufacturers to retain exclusivity and regain costs. This affects revenues and raises costs of medicine for end users. Faster marketing will enable faster gains leading consumers to buy cheaper medicines in the long run. The focus of the pharmaceutical companies will shift from value led models to outcomes based perspectives. Drug manufacturers will increasingly have risk sharing arrangements with all stakeholders on the performance of drugs. Payers, health insurers and public health authorities will gain familiarity with manufacturers and explore outcomes in the long run.