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How the Pharmaceutical Industry is Embracing a Technology-Driven Approach to Unlock New Growth Avenues

Nikkhil K Masurkar, Executive Director, Entod Pharmaceuticals

Though the pharmaceutical industry has been slow in adopting technological innovations, however the onset of the pandemic has drastically changed the scenario. Owing to the challenges and disruptions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the latest technologies like AI, AR/VR, Big Data and Quantum Computing have found increasing acceptance from pharmaceutical companies to create personalised products, accelerate R&D efforts and transform the experience for the users. A Global Data survey conducted this year revealed that more than 70 per cent of pharmaceutical industry respondents expect drug development to be the area which will be most impacted by smart technologies. As technological innovations and advancements continue, the pharmaceutical industry is expected to further undergo rapid evolvement and growth to cater to the rising healthcare demands worldwide. 

Technology is the Playing the Role of a Growth Driver for the Pharmaceutical Industry
As technological innovations continue to aid the growth of the pharmaceutical industry, here’s a look at some of the technologies that are reshaping the industry.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
A report by Grand View Research shows that the global artificial intelligence healthcare market is expected to reach US$31.3 billion by 2025. AI is assisting the pharma industry in accelerating the drug discovery and manufacturing process. Companies are increasingly looking at AI to optimise and automate the manufacturing process and design post-launch and effective marketing strategies. AI combined with Machine Learning (ML) is also assisting pharmaceutical companies to analyse profiles of individuals and compare the efficacy of drugs and demand. As a result, manufacturers can create improved drugs and medicines by understanding their effectiveness in specific individuals.

Big Data and Analytics
The cost associated with R&D is one of the major hindrances in the launch of new medicines or drugs. Due to that, often at times, there isn’t adequate manufacturing and dispatching of medicines. However, by using Big Data and Analytics, researchers in the pharmaceutical industry can reduce exploration cycles, making the discovery and development of new drugs quicker. Other than that, with the help of Big Data, pharma companies can determine the side effects of a drug beforehand which consequently shortens the time required for clinical trials.

Single-Use Processes
An increasing number of pharmaceutical companies are adopting this technology as part of their manufacturing process. With SUT-powered bioreactors, pharmaceutical companies can develop reliable products without the need to sterilise containers. With less maintenance, companies already utilising SUT to report quick turnaround and manufacturing times as well as simplified operations. Equipment that runs on SUT is quite easy to set up. It takes 1 or 2 hours as compared to stainless setups that can take at least a couple of days. Additionally, maintaining the system is straightforward, without any need for annual cleaning, sterilisation validations and minimum monitoring.

Bioprinting
One of the major challenges that remain for the pharmaceutical industry is clinical testing. Pharmaceutical companies test the safety and efficacy of a drug on live subjects but thanks to bioprinting, the scenario is about to change. Using techniques similar to 3D-printing, bioprinting can create imitations of human organs and tissues. This technology conjugates cells along with growth factors and various biomaterials to create a mesh-like structure. These organs can replace live subjects in clinical trials. The best part about this technology is that it forms tissues and micro-organs that react in the same manner as does a human body to new drugs and medicines.

Blockchain
Blockchain can make sure that there is accurate, reliable data and a single version of truth shared by all participants within the manufacturing and supply chain process. This can ensure visibility from top to bottom of the supply chain with data. Blockchain can also bridge barriers between pharma stakeholders by providing all parties accurate, real-time view of the supply chain. This is a critical factor to ensure robustness in the manufacturing and supply chain.

Final Say
The pandemic has been a wake-up call for the pharma industry to rethink its processes and make them work more efficiently. With the inception of innovative technologies, pharmaceutical companies are certainly getting the much-needed support to drive growth, initiate new changes, and work towards the betterment of public health through better products and solutions.

Nikkhil K Masurkar

Nikkhil K Masurkar, a research pharmacist with a dynamic entrepreneurial streak. Nikkhil K Masurkar is executive director of the ENTOD International Group - a leading specialty research-based pharma company specialising in ophthalmic, ENT and Dermatology medicines. As a third generation entrepreneur, Nikkhil took over his family’s three decade old pharmaceutical business. However, to ensure he was adequately prepared to lead the organisation into the 21st century, he delved deep into clinical pharmacy and pharmacy research for several years prior to it. He is a highly qualified research pharmacist from Kings College London (UK) with various clinical pharmacy and formulation research accreditations to his name. He also studied clinical pharmacy in Belfast and is also a member of the prestigious Royal Pharmaceutical Society in the UK. His strong leadership qualities, dynamic entrepreneurial spirit and sharp business acumen together with impressive pharmaceutical and research skills have enabled ENTOD to become one of the fastest growing speciality pharmaceutical companies in India and abroad.

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