The power of collaboration: Tackling pharmaceutical challenges


Pharmaceutical companies have started to embrace a more collaborative way of working as part of a movement to help overcome some of the challenges the industry is facing, writes Inez Cornell, Marketing Manager, Radleys

Expiring patents and a tight regulatory environment are just some of the issues that are hoped to be resolved through forming partnerships across the industry, and even with competitors.

Radleys believes that collaborative working is likely to play an important role in the pharmaceutical industry for years to come because of a number of trends that are emerging.

Technology is opening up new opportunities

Technology is slowly being introduced and utilised within healthcare and is revolutionising the pharma industry. When it comes to utilising technology and staying ahead of digital trends, the care industry is not necessarily well-recognised for this.

However, with everything becoming increasingly more automated and digitised, care homes, hospitals and other care related establishments need to be adopting the latest technological advancements or risk being left behind.

From software solutions that help out with administrative work and smart home capabilities that can enhance staff productivity to robotic technology that has proven results in increasing health, there are many advancements that should be considered — as well as the potential collaborations that could help streamline operations.

There is also scope for more pharmaceutical and technology partnerships to develop products that will help to realise the vision of delivering personalised medicine. Partnering with technology companies to enhance productivity using automation is just one way the pharmaceutical sector can avoid wasting money on pursuing research into treatments that later turn out not to be viable.

Software solutions have allowed for digitisation of records including care plans, residents’ medical records and staff employment and management records. This has led to the optimisation of operational and administrative processes in the UK care industry.

Systems such as eMar have played a large role in reducing the pressure on staff within care homes by providing a faster and more efficient way of recording resident information.

Efficiency and productivity will be improved by partnering with relevant software companies, as will an enhanced quality of care to clients.

Prioritisation of tackling complex diseases

The rise of conditions such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s, alongside staff shortages, is putting a huge amount of pressure on the UK health system, so tackling these should definitely be a priority.

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than half a million people in the UK, and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of death in Britain. There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to more than one million by 2025.

The Prime Minister's 2020 Challenge on Dementia laid out a series of plans to help tackle the crisis. They set out the ambitious aim to find a cure by 2025; however, finding treatments for brain diseases is incredibly complex and can’t be done without the help and insights of other industries.

It wasn’t that long ago that pharma giants were nothing less than fierce competitors, but the need for a shift has been identified. This lead to the collaborations of pharma companies as this is important for sharing knowledge between experts.

The UK has already won major Innovative Medicine Initiative grants to support multinational academic-pharma partnerships, which is definitely a step in the right direction.

Patient’s needs are changing

Times are changing and patients are no longer content with going with the status quo when it comes to healthcare; they demand more personalised health plans that are shaped around their own individual needs.

Consumers have shown that they want new therapies that are better than anything on the market, and the pharmaceutical companies must have the real-world research to back up such claims. This movement has been identified by the pharma industry, as well as by healthcare providers such as the NHS.

Through collaborations between pharma organisations, healthcare providers and patients, a more streamlined focus on the outcomes that matter to patients can be made possible. According to research by the drug development company Covance, 84% of senior decision makers in the field of clinical development agree that pharmaceutical companies must incorporate the patient voice in drug development more effectively.

Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies may not have embraced collaborative working, but now it is more of a necessity that is expected to become common.

Despite providing rewards such as the ability to align decisions with patients' wants, needs, and preferences, patient-centric care can also provide challenges for the pharmaceutical industry. The main challenge for 2019 will be focused around the potential of the direct consumer becoming the pharmaceutical company’s most strategic partner.

This will involve determining how to leverage the power of health technology, and how to shift focus from partnerships with the medical community to partnerships directly with the consumer.

There has been a shift towards consumerism within the pharma industry in recent years with pharmaceutical advertisements and it is expected that as a trend this is only going to grow. It will strengthen and position drug companies, giving them more opportunity to reach the consumer through wearables and other devices.

The next few years will prove to be crucial for the pharmaceutical industry for many reasons; but, in particular, key aims will be to foster a relationship with the public and establish relevant and valuable collaborations with other industries.