The future of pharma: Innovating to own the disease, not the pill

It’s a new, more informed world, and pharma needs to take notice. Patients are arming themselves with information, and joining forums where they can share and compare with others. They no longer want to just take a pill; they want to “own their disease.” Payors are becoming more critical players in the health care ecosystem, demanding innovative solutions that are cost-effective and that Pills in petri dishesreduce overall health risks as demonstrated by real-world evidence. And providers are increasingly scrutinized about their product selections and patient-care decisions; their rewards will be tied to outcomes and cost-effectiveness. While the dynamic of the provider in the health care ecosystem is changing, providers will always remain central to the patients’ care and an essential and critical component to understanding disease. 

“Owning the disease” requires managing the entire cycle of care, including:  

  • providing awareness about the disease
  • empowering patients to maintain their health
  • engaging patients and supporting them with options that supplement the pill
  • providing diagnostics that help the patient and provider understand medical conditions or therapeutic effect of a treatment
  • providing cohesive treatment options (from small-large molecules through to devices)
  • providing cohesive health management options
  • playing a critical role in the integration of care
  • enabling patients to be compliant with their treatments

Pharma is in the business of drug development. Developing and launching of non-pill products require different skills and capabilities, and must be supported by specialized operating, R&D and commercial models.  That means pharma needs to develop the overall strategy for the integrated suite of products (pill and non-pill), and rewire itself to play profitably in this space. Owning the disease rather than the pill helps establish more personalized treatments and therefore enhances outcomes, which is a critical component to future success of pharma, leading to the greatest ROI. 

The best approach to developing integrated product offerings is to start with the unmet need; define the target-product profile (prioritizing the features from greatest importance to least importance); then innovate to develop a product that addresses all critical aspects of the target-product profile.

Sourcing innovative concepts

The greatest innovation leaps happen when ideas from experts across multiple disciplines collaborate. The deeper the expertise and the broader the diversity of thoughts that can be shared and integrated, the more innovative the solution will be. Pharma has only one option to address these limitations: It must seek partners outside its walls, partners with multiple and diverse discipline expertise. While these experts can be found across multiple industries, the deepest knowledge, most easily accessible and most concentrated resources are in the academic world.

The challenge for pharma is that it speaks a completely different language than academia. It operates with different timelines and milestones. Despite numerous past attempts at industry-academia initiatives, there are few success stories to show for it. Pharma needs to change the way it partners with academia in order to leverage the immense talent and innovation concepts available there.

But it’s time to address the challenges and take ownership of more than just the pill.

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