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What's happening in life sciences?

Recently we gathered a number of pharma services executives from across the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology value chain – discovery, clinical and commercial – to reflect on what was a year of uncertainty and change in life sciences as the industry looked to adapt to the post-covid world while preparing for an era of increasing change. Below are some of the key themes from the discussion.

While it hasn’t been an easy year, there’s plenty to be excited about…

  • The life sciences sector paused for breath in 2023. There was universal consensus that life felt slightly harder in 2023, whether it was clinical spend, selling technology or accessing commercial budget. However, there is general acknowledgement that this is a temporary phenomenon with nothing changing long-term fundamentals in the sector, and towards the end of the year the market was beginning to unlock and show signs of improvement.
  • There has been a reshuffling of R&D priorities in Pharma driven by a need to better manage cost and prepare for the impending consequences of the Inflation Reduction Act and patent expiries. In certain instances this is leading to a relative deprioritisation in therapeutic areas and modalities that have been in vogue over the last few years (e.g. orphan drugs, cell and gene therapy, vaccines) towards more traditional therapeutic areas (e.g. cardiology and respiratory), and modalities and indications capable of targeting larger patient populations. Alongside this M&A will play an increasingly important role in bridging the R&D gap.
  • Procurement is playing a bigger hand in appointing service providers. The imperative to manage cost is resulting in procurement having a greater say in spend and potentially indiscriminate cost cutting. This requires service providers to more actively manage their relationships into procurement teams and to prepare for longer decision times from Pharma companies.
  • India and China are exciting and maturing, but uncertain markets. India is benefitting from increasing nervousness of the geopolitical risks associated with China and a maturing talent pool with ever-increasing capability and quality; while China is an exciting domestic market with growing local demand for service provision. Providers will need to increasingly pay attention to these markets to access growth while navigating their inherent complexities.
  • The pace of technological change is greater than the sector’s ability to assimilate it, but ultimately there is lots of opportunity. While there is a general sense that driving adoption of new technologies remains challenging, there is a sense of excitement that the evolving market dynamics which necessitate a more efficient path to drug development will accelerate the adoption of technologies. It’s incumbent on technology providers in the market to guide their customers through this transition – allowing space for new ways of working, while appropriately managing risk.