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article imageRoad map for the digital transformation of pharmaceuticals

By Tim Sandle     Mar 22, 2018 in Business
Berlin - The impact and future of digitization along the value chain of the pharmaceutical industry have been discussed at a recent conference. The process of digital transformation presents both opportunities and threats for pharma.
The recent conference was hosted by the Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Germany (BPI - Bundesverband der Pharmazeutischen Industrie e.V. ), with workshops coordinated by Alira Health. The conference took place in March 2018, in Berlin. Alira Health provides strategic and mergers and acquisitions advisory services focusing on healthcare sector.
Risks and opportunities from new players
At the event, Dr. Martin Pöhlchen and Piergiulio Lauriano, both of Alira Health, discussed the impact and future of digitization along the value chain of the pharmaceutical industry. In his session, Dr. Pöhlchen noted how Information Technology giants are starting to fundamentally question conventional pharmaceutical manufacturing business models. Through this, technology companies are pushing into the pharmaceutical and the healthcare markets. While this constitutes a threat to established players, through niche competition, there are also opportunities.
With this latter point there are also many small start-ups with innovative ideas that could potentially be better exploited by pharmaceutical companies. Here Dr. Pöhlchen suggested that big pharma companies should combine their knowledge and know-how with small creative companies. This is in order to create sustainable pharmaceutical products and service solutions.
Personalized medicines for patients
In communication sent to Digital Journal, Dr. Pöhlchen said: "In the future, it will not be important to be able to produce a pill; it will be important to provide patients and people with comprehensive yet personalized product and healthcare service solutions."
Drawing on examples, the technology guru noted there is a pressing need for technically well-educated data scientists in the pharmaceutical industry. Furthermore, there is also a need for associations to advocate for policy that will help fill the gap in the availability of trained data scientists.
How to transform to meet the digital age?
In the follow-up session, Piergiulio Lauriano concluded: "The workshop demonstrated that it is necessary and possible for medium-sized pharmaceutical companies to make a transition to the digital age. If they have not started yet, they need to act now."
As to what this might mean in practice, regulations and drug filing are gradually being digitalized. Here the electronic exchange of information enables drug product dossiers to be easily updated across a number of platforms. In addition, several pharmaceutical organizations are adopting a ‘cloud first’ strategy. This is so that companies can streamline services across multiple sites and to facilitate greater collaborative working across business units.
An example of the digital road is shown with the German multinational drugs company Merck. The core change is through linking up different software solutions into a cohesive package, as the Digital Journal article "Merck shows how a pharma company can go digital" outlines.
In related news, Digital Journal has focused on the digital transformation of on specific area of pharmaceuticals - biotechnology. The different measures that this sector are undertaking are addressed in the article "Digital transformation underway with bioprocessing." Measures include using technology to achieve better yields and lower costs to production operations.
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