Top 10 Pharma and Biotech Trends to Watch in 2018


Pharma IQ takes a look at some of the trends forecasted to take hold this year: disruption for vendor landscapes, regulatory intervention and sophisticated analytics technologies gaining speed. 

Tech giants may start to enter the pharma and biotech field

There is a strong possibility that tech giants, like Amazon and Google, will begin the enter the pharma and biotech field. There is an expectation from various industry stakeholders that we will see large tech companies starting biotech initiatives because the industry is considered as quite an attractive investment at the moment. – Halloran Consulting Group’s COO, Greg Dombal 

Biotech vendor pool to shrink

The vendor landscape will shift significantly and consolidate in 2018 due to shrinking margins. In addition, vendors will be impacted by a recent shift in biotech’s search for alternatives to outsourcing. A growing number of organizations are unhappy with their outsourcing arrangements and with technology advancing internal capabilities, vendors may be affected. – Halloran Consulting Group’s COO, Greg Dombal

Safeguarding quality

Starting in 2017 and continuing into 2018, ventures are looking to control early development to avoid sub-optimal products on the market. There has been a boom in funding over the last two years that has filled the drug pipeline and brought a significant number of drugs to the public, but many of them are sub-optimal.

In 2018, there will be more of a discerning eye from pharma companies to ensure only top-level drugs are being brought to market. – Halloran Consulting Group’s COO, Greg Dombal

Regulatory intervention with prices

It’s tough to make a solid prediction for the regulatory landscape in 2018, but the US administration could make a significant impact. The focus was solely on healthcare in 2017 and pharma was largely left alone, so this will likely change in the coming year.

Specifically, prescription drug price controls may be one of the first regulatory changes causing pharma companies to start tightening their budgets in anticipation. – Halloran Consulting Group’s COO, Greg Dombal


One thing for certain is that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) will come into effect in May 2018. The regulation introduces a new set of rules relating to the collection, storage and processing of personal data.

With the introduction of new legislation to regulate data protection in the European Union, data breaches may soon result in even greater significant legal and financial consequences for pharmaceutical organisations.

Predictive analytics to fuel precision medicine

Pharma companies and biotech ventures are likely to seize a more active role in predictive analytics to identify key usage patterns and look for treatments targeted to a specific set of patients or conditions.

“Companies are realizing the value of this kind of niche market and these strong economic factors will drive them to go into predictive as well as prescriptive analytics” – Arun Bondali,  Sr. Enterprise Lead Architect, Science and Enabling Units at AstraZeneca

Artificial intelligence to gain speed in medicine

Drug discovery will continue to test the benefits technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning, can bring to the development process. For example, benefits could be seen from deploying informatics and data analytics platforms to inform clinical operations teams of trends seen in trial audit reports and simplifying adverse event reporting for pharmacovigilance practitioners.

Market analysts predict that this year will see a lot of direct comparisons between AI decisions and human decisions. More data standardisation in the industry will be needed to fully support this movement.

Decision makers will hold to demanding tangible return on investment with these technologies.

More pricing innovation

More pressure will lead pharma firms and medicine providers to test alternative payment plans and to realise cost savings, focus is likely to shift to value led models and outcomes based perspectives.

As Steven mentioned in his 2017 predictions: more and more pharma companies will be willing to explore innovative pricing and reimbursement schemes with payers.

There will be an increased confidence in, and a more defined protocol for, risk sharing or performance-based agreements. Payers, insurers and government health authorities have gained familiarity with these innovative schemes in the recent past, especially in contracts with physician groups and large hospitals. Therefore, they will be more willing to listen and explore pharma’s proposed value-based purchasing models.

Call for more ROI evidence on clinical trial supply simulation software

According to Pharma IQ’s recent research the clinical trial supply industry has seen enhanced integration between enrolment data and inventory levels from the use of IRT software in clinical supply chains. This integration has positively impacted overage and wastage levels.

Many responding clinical trial supply teams indicated a reliance on excel sheets for planning and forecasting. To trigger widespread industry buy-in, simulation software providers will need to boost their product’s accessibility, user friendliness and ability to demonstrate clear ROI.

The clinical trial market will continue to prepare for the launch of the EU portal in line with the union’s new Clinical Trial Regulations. Adhering to labelling requirements such as the need to print expiry dating even on primary packaging, which is sometimes very small, will continue to stand as a tall challenge for the market.

Pull rather than push: Patient centricity

Traditional push marketing will be phased out next year in favour for pulling in target markets with content, value led services and long term rapport via customer engagement groups.

Machine learning will propel digital health and user experiences.

Source: PharmaiQ