What does 2015 look like for pharma?
New legislation on IDMP, aggressive mergers and personalised medicine could be some of the major trends affecting Europe’s pharmaceutical industry in 2015, according to the Pharmaceutical Recruitment team at Michael Bailey Associates. During 2014, the industry faced a desperate need for an Ebola vaccine to address the West African epidemic triggered a number of other issues such as a fresh pricing war. This was obviously met with problems that have been troubling the industry for numerous years, such as the battle to optimise personalised medicine, continuing efforts to better diagnose and treat cancer, and the competitiveness of new products hitting the market.
Of course, this was all set in a pharma landscape that is still dusting itself off from the recession and trying to balance the value of mergers and tighter legislation with the need for consistent staffing levels and engaging people in the profession.
The implementation of the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) known as “Obamacare” also had an impact on the global pharma market, and companies tried to make their policies, patents and procedures more transparent.
For the rest of 2015 and well into 2016, it is likely that the pharma industry will still be tasked with dealing with recurring problems, but it will also look towards investing more in research to develop cutting-edge treatments and technology.
Big challenges facing pharma
As for a number of years, legislation and its implementation is set to be a continuing issue for pharma companies in 2015. "Crackdowns" from bodies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will continue to have an effect on companies around the world, commented James, Pharmaceutical Recruitment Consultant from Michael Bailey Associates.
A major piece of legislation will be IDMP, which consists of five documents outlined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The main purpose of IDMP is to encourage better standards surrounding data collection in pharma. Although this won't come into full force until March 2016, it is likely that over the next 12 months, pharma companies will increase their efforts to ensure they adhere to the new guidelines.
James’s view is that, this "harmonisation of data" is a symptom of wider pressures on the industry to produce and store data that is of a high quality, as well as being accessible. There will be a particular focus on documenting reports of adverse events, whether they are serious or mild and making this information accessible to health companies.
As with 2014, 2015 will pose the opportunity for a number of mergers, some of which are likely to be aggressive. This can offer both pros and cons for those working in pharma, with the potential to increase profit margins and the possibility of increasing the amount of redundancies.
There is often an aggressive element to mergers, which puts staff at the highest risk; but this is essential to staying in business for many pharma companies, as with other industries like IT and media.
According to official analysis, the EU is lagging behind others, especially in terms of research and development and this is an area that will become increasingly important over the next few years. During 2015, the pharma industry needs to further recover from the recession period, where investment was far weaker in research and development, and channel more finances into this area to succeed.
James said this will be especially important for companies in the initial stages of development, as more look to invest in the earlier phases, to minimise the financial risk in the long term. With some drugs taking decades to reach consumers, there are a number of obstacles and checks to overcome, which can be costly for firms. Few pharma companies can afford to waste time, resources and finances on a drug that fails at the final stage. In 2015, this could mark out successful businesses from their competitors.
Looking to the future
Personalised medicine will increasingly be an aim of pharma companies, even if it's not in the immediate future. Many markets will increase their efforts on achieving drugs, vaccines and other treatment options that are unique to the individual, following the lead of allergy medication.
However, James said this is at least ten years away from coming to complete fruition, but small breakthroughs are occurring in the industry.
He said: "This is something for the future. It isn't something that will affect people straight away but it's a definite focus for the future."
This will be key for taking the competitive edge in 2015 and beyond, with emerging markets like India and Asia-Pacific already trying to undercut their rivals in the US and Europe. It will be the pharma companies that are able to research, develop and produce the most advanced drugs that succeed in the next five years and beyond.