Challenges to Big Pharma from within


Medicine is one of the largest industries globally. It is never hit by recession. On the contrary, when recession hits people feel more like seeing the doctor. But, this doesn’t mean that the field is immune to stagnancy. The pharmaceutical industry needs to frequently reinvent itself. The two major challenges that would upset the current pharmaceutical scenario are the end of the blockbuster era and the emergence of personalized medicine.

Blockbusters busted

For long, pharma companies have earned enormous revenues by developing drugs that cure people suffering from a particular globally and by discovering new applications for existing drugs. But, most of such drugs are nearing the ends of their patents – paving the way for generics. According to a review paper, number of new branded drugs have declined. The FDA is also making drug approval conditions stricter. Also, it is getting increasingly difficult to select candidate molecules with therapeutic benefits. The challenge for the pharma lies in competing with its own past own successes. Different pharma giants are responding variably through mergers and acquisitions into fields as diverse as diagnostics, wellness etc. One thing is clear – none of them is clear about hoe the industry would look like a decade or two from now. According to another review, a major paradigm shift in our thinking is needed to boost the blockbuster regime.

Medicine that is best suited to you

side effects cartoonWhen you take a drug, there are four possible outcomes – you may get cured or you may not, with or without side-effects. If someone gets cured for a condition on taking a drug but you don’t, there has to be a gene responsible for the injustice. Personalized medicine is about prescribing you the drug out of all options, which would work the best depending on your genome. Very soon, pharma companies would be developing drugs, specific for particular genetic sub-types of the population. This obviously would translate into a shrunk consumer base. On the positive side, it would lead to some attention to orphan diseases, that is which inflict so few people in the population that making drugs for them is not a commercially viable option.

How the pharmaceutical industry comes across these challenges, if it does, is a thing to look out for.

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