The Benefits and Challenges of Bringing Tech to the Pharma Industry

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Pharma companies are always trying to innovate in any way they can. Any advancement that may help with this quickly becomes a big focus. One such area that pharma companies are now focusing on is bringing more tech into the industry. This is proving to be a smart idea as new technologies are already helping to revolutionize research. 

There are a lot of different areas of technology for pharma companies to invest into, and each one has its own share of benefits and challenges.

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A More Social Pharma

A few companies in the industry are starting to use social media to help with patient engagement, gather useful data, and help improve brand reception and make their image that of a more friendly, social company.

According to a report by Ogilvy Health on social media use amongst pharma companies, the average number of social media posts made by pharma companies has decreased, but social media groups and communities have grown significantly. This shows that there are still many benefits from using social media for both overall patient engagement as well as for marketing.

However, pharma companies do have to make sure they remain compliant with FDA restrictions while using social media, which proves to be a challenge in balancing between sticking with regulations while still offering insightful information.

Machine Learning and Analytics

Data is quickly becoming one of the most valuable assets for pharma companies, and being able to accurately analyze it and pick out relevant information to use in both drug research as well as marketing has many benefits. However, analyzing the vast amount of data that pharma companies have is a tall order. 

In order to help with this, pharma companies are turning to machine learning.

In essence, machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence that is focused on using computer systems to analyze data. By analyzing data, the computer system can pick out patterns and learn from the data it reads. Combining machine learning with a large amount of information is often referred to as “big data.”

Pharma companies are using machine learning to analyze data that they have gathered on patients to be able to design treatments that are more personalized in order to have each treatment be more effective and come with fewer side effects, so that patients are happier with their treatment and, thus, more likely to use them.

3D Printing Drugs

3D printing has been in the news frequently for its potential to completely revolutionize the life sciences, with products like 3-D printed medical devices or even 3-D printed organs. This is no different for pharmaceuticals and now many companies are looking into what kinds of benefits 3D printing may have for the pharma industry.

While it’s not likely to completely replace the production lines that pharma companies have in place now, there is one area where 3-D printing may see a lot of use: orphan drugs.

One of the issues that inherently comes with orphan drugs is that many pharmaceutical companies don’t want to have to set up the expensive manufacturing infrastructure for a medication that will only see a limited amount of sales. However, 3D printing offers a much more convenient and cost-effective method of creating these orphan drugs.

Challenges and Concerns

While bringing new technology into the pharma industry does have many benefits, it’s not without costs and challenges. Any sort of investment like this will be a risk, but focusing on tech specifically can have unique liabilities.

Depending on what kinds of technology a company is trying to implement and how they do it could open them up to security issues. For example, cloud computing may be one of the big technologies that pharma companies will look into either implementing or expanding their usage of in the years to come. However, having so much sensitive data in the cloud can be a huge security risk, especially if a company decides to use a public cloud.

In the case of cloud computing, pharma companies will be opening themselves up to another medium for hackers to gain data on patients or drug R&D. If opting to use a public cloud infrastructure, the company will also need to invest more into cybersecurity professionals to help ensure that the data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Another issue with tech is that it changes incredibly fast, and trends come and go just as quickly. Pharma companies have to be careful about what kinds of tech they choose to invest their time and money into because it could end up falling flat and all of those resources would end up being wasted.

However, any attempt at revolutionizing an industry will come with considerable risks. It’s up to each company to weight the pros and cons to see if the costs of trying are worth it.

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