Wikipedia. Smartphones. LED light bulbs. Ride-share services like Uber and Lyft. All of these innovations have turned traditional industries on their head in recent years, a pointed reminder that exponential change is possible even in the most well-established sectors of the economy
The pharmaceutical industry is ripe for this kind of disruptive innovation, facing challenges that include rising costs, aging patient populations and negative public image.
What form will the next major disruptive innovation take?
This post looks at 4 innovation trends to watch.
1. Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to connecting individual devices to the internet, as well as to other devices and monitoring systems. Companies have long used technology to feed equipment data into manufacturing control systems that control machinery. IoT takes it to the next level, helping gather and process massive troves of data that can be used to drive performance improvements.
Ways pharmaceutical companies can leverage IoT include:
- Connecting equipment data to calibration management software to develop predictive maintenance capabilities.
- Serialization and supply chain tracking of materials and products.
- Automatic generation of records for compliance purposes.
- Integration of equipment and formulation parameters to reduce the need for manual adjustments.
- Improving visibility of performance metrics from production through distribution.
2. Big Data
Everyone’s talking about Big Data these days, and nowhere is it more important than the pharmaceutical industry. The ability to harness and analyze massive data sets has many applications for drug manufacturers, such as:
- Using genetic data to develop new therapies and more narrowly target clinical trial participants.
- Developing predictive models to identify compounds with a high probability of efficacy and safety.
- Monitoring clinical trials in real-time to improve their efficiency and completion rates.
The more data companies have, the better they can identify correlations that lead to new innovations. The key here is integrating your data within a single environment. Having automated GMP Compliance Software is an advantage, consolidating production information for further analysis or integration with business intelligence and modeling tools.
Biosensors have the potential to revolutionize pharmaceutical manufacturing by providing real-time data on biochemical activity within individual cells.
Quantum dots used for drug development are a prime example. These nanoscale semiconductor particles are extraordinarily bright and stable, making it easy to track their movement using fluorescence techniques. Researchers can embed them in proteins, DNA, antibodies, allowing scientists to visualize molecular activity within a single cell in the lab.
Fluorescent glucose biosensors are another example, an emerging technology that could enable real-time monitoring of blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. Biosensors have a huge number of potential applications, so it will be interesting to see how this technology plays out in the future. One thing is for certain—better tracking of drugs and their specific activity pathways could significantly push down R&D costs and allow for more effective targeting of new pharmaceutical agents.
4. 3-D Printing
In recent years, 3-D printing has played a growing role in the medical industry, used for producing items such as custom prosthetics and dental implants. 3-D printed organs and blood vessel networks have also made headlines recently, and the technology also has the potential to revolutionize drug manufacturing.
Imagine a future where doctors and researchers could 3-D print:
- Pills with precise dosages personalized to the patient.
- Layered medications bound together without compression, allowing faster delivery of high dosages.
- Customized combination drugs to treat multiple conditions simultaneously.
A lot of these concepts may sound pretty sci-fi, and some of this technology is still years away. But the fact remains that the pharmaceutical industry is in prime position for disruptive innovation, and the only question is what form it will take. The winners will be those companies with the systems and technology in place to leverage Big Data to manage their risks and support the people and processes driving innovation.