Pharma Tech Trends That Are Changing The Drug Development Process

In recent years, the pharmaceutical industry has been making use of the latest technology to help improve healthcare and meet regulatory compliance requirements. New technology trends, such as artificial intelligence and 3D printing, have provided innovative ways for the pharmaceutical industry to become more efficient and advance the ways in which medication is developed, packaged, and delivered to patients and consumers. The following are some of the top pharma tech trends that are making a notable impact on healthcare in the United States. 

Digital Technology in the Pharma Industry

1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) trends have led to major improvements in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process and patient identification. AI supports both automation and optimization in drug manufacturing processes. This helps improve efficiency, leading to reduced waste and lower risks of errors during drug manufacturing. AI and machine learning allows manufacturers to automate complicated tasks rather than manual labor, making drug manufacturing more efficient and accurate.

The use of AI has also resulted in improvements in patient identification. Being able to identify patients accurately reduces the risk of errors during drug development. A lower risk of medication errors is important since these errors can lead to serious and even fatal effects. Healthcare professionals in the pharmaceutical industry are turning to the use of AI more because of the added enhancements in patient identification and drug manufacturing processes.

2. Ability to Analyze and Store Large Amounts of Data

Pharma companies require large amounts of data to be analyzed and stored as part of the drug development process. From the discovery and development stage to the pre-clinical and clinical research stages, researchers need an efficient way to have all the data evaluated. Digital transformation is making it possible for substantial amounts of data to be analyzed as part of the drug development process.

The ability to analyze big data efficiently promotes a continuous developmental process in the pharmaceutical industry. This is important due to the rise in precision medicine, which helps provide patients with more effective treatment based on several factors, such as genetics and environment. A continuous developmental process provides pharmaceutical companies with a competitive advantage while also benefiting patients by supplying better care and treatment.

More pharmaceutical companies are depending on the use of advanced technologies that allows larger data amounts to be evaluated and used for continuous improvements. To securely store this large amount of data and sensitive information, organizations are relying heavily on cloud technology. Cloud computing allows for pharmaceutical research teams to collaborate and innovate quickly, utilizing an on-demand IT environment that makes data, like labs and medical imaging, easily accessible. Not only is cloud-based infrastructure highly secure, the scalability and efficiency help pharmaceutical companies get to market faster.

3. Blockchain Technology

With the increase in online transactions and orders for medications, consumers are at risk of ending up with counterfeit medicine or substandard drugs. In some cases, this can lead to serious health consequences. Consumers are also at risk of taking medications that do not provide the effects needed to treat or manage a health condition. The pharmaceutical industry’s technological transformation has led to better ways of protecting consumers from the risk of fake and substandard medications, along with ensuring that patients receive the right medication.

Blockchain technology is providing protection from counterfeit and substandard drugs on the market. This technology uses encryption and a decentralized database to help prevent fraud from occurring. The pharmaceutical industry has been adopting the use of blockchain technology to avoid having data stored in a centralized database, where it can become compromised. The increasing reliance on this technology is expected to lead to a significant reduction in substandard and fake medications purchased online. 

4. Real-World Data

Real-world data from electronic health records, claims data, wearable technology, medical devices, and other sources provides valuable information on the experience of patients as they interact with healthcare providers and systems. This information is leading to improvements in the development of medications. Real-world data supports innovation in the drug development process, while also playing a role in assessing the effectiveness of medications. These sources of data are considered reliable and are used to help make improvements to existing medications or to produce new medications as needed. Researchers have been using this data in designing and conducting clinical trials.

Real-world data is also having an impact on regulatory decision regarding medications. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is increasingly relying on the use of real-world data, as well as real-world evidence, to evaluate the safety of medications on the market and monitor adverse events associated with these drug discoveries.

5. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry is becoming increasingly important as more complex security risks emerge. Because healthcare organizations possess so much important patient data, they are at an elevated risk for attack. Pharma executives and hospital directors need to be able to protect sensitive data from these attacks, which are on the rise. Improvements in cybersecurity are providing healthcare directors with the ability to keep sensitive data protected. Several security risks are increasing in the pharmaceutical industry, such as the use of third-party vendors, ransomware, phishing attacks, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Pharmacies and hospitals must have the ability to meet these challenges and take steps to prevent cyber-attacks from compromising patient and drug data. 

The development of cybersecurity procedures, controls, and risk management solutions gives hospital and pharmacy directors effective ways to keep sensitive information safe from cyber-attacks. The increased focus on raising security awareness among employees through training is also helping healthcare facilities protect this information. As cyber-attacks increase, pharmacy and hospital directors are taking a more holistic approach to preventing them from occurring, including making use of available security solutions and raising awareness. 

Production Processes

1. Manufacturing to Meet Market Dynamics

The market dynamics of the pharmaceutical industry have been changing in recent years. Tech trends have been providing ways for pharmaceutical companies to keep up with these shifting dynamics. Changes in manufacturing have included the production of smaller batches in response to the trend in personalized medicine. The use of precision medicine or personalized medicine does not require large batches of medication to be produced. Technological trends in manufacturing are making it possible for companies to produce small batches as needed.

Changing market dynamics that reflect the increasing use of targeted therapies require the development of specialized manufacturing facilities. The smaller facilities are needed to manage low volume production rather than high volume production. These manufacturing facilities rely on technological developments to produce high-value, personalized medication instead of mass-producing low-cost medications aimed at a much wider group of consumers. 

2. Continuous Manufacturing Process

Pharmaceutical companies look for ways to improve operational efficiency and productivity during the manufacturing process. Technological trends are promoting a continuous manufacturing process from pharmaceutical research labs to the market. Digital tools are providing pharmaceutical companies with the ability to get drugs to the market faster, reduce their environmental footprints, and provide product quality that is more consistent. The use of these digital tools has been occurring in small molecule drug facilities and bioprocessing. With these tools, companies have been able to reduce operating costs and improve process control during manufacturing. 

Continuous manufacturing processes in the pharmaceutical industry offers notable advantages over batch manufacturing. Instead of having to produce drugs in multiple steps with production pauses in between each step, medications can be manufactured in a nonstop process. With the advantages that continuous manufacturing provides, such as better quality and a lower risk of human error, the use of these digital tools is on the rise. 

3. Advanced 3D Printing of Human Tissue

The use of 3D printing has also been increasing in the healthcare industry. Healthcare research has focused on the use of this technology to print human tissue for patients who need organ transplants. Advances in 3D printing have also been beneficial for the pharmaceutical industry. The ability to use this technology to print human tissue is expected to provide a safer way to conduct clinical trials involving medications. Current methods rely on the use of human volunteers, which includes a risk of having these individuals experience an adverse reaction.

With the use of 3D printing, drug testing facilities might be able to conduct trials involving human tissue rather than using human volunteers. This could lead to significant improvements in the safety of clinical drug trials. More research is needed to reach the point where 3D printing can be relied on for these drug trials, but advancements in this technology show promise.

4. Growth in CDMO Market

The growth in the contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) market is expected to continue, making it essential for pharmaceutical companies to meet the challenges that come with it. This market is made up of companies that develop and manufacture drugs rather than manufacturing pre-formulated drugs as contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) do. The main challenge for CDMOs tends to involve speed, since these companies need to go through a more complex process before heading to the market. Tech trends in the pharmaceutical industry for CDMOs focus on outsourcing product development, clinical testing, and regulatory support. This is done to help medications reach the market more quickly, which helps to make drugs more readily available for consumers. 

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