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Editor's Letter: April 2022

Words by Helena Beer, Editor

From social media and the metaverse to apps and gamification, digital is taking the world by storm – arguably, more so than ever before. The pharmaceutical industry is behind the curve in many respects, ahead of it in others, but the overall potential is vast for streamlining workflows, boosting efficiencies and opening up new, and often virtual, doors that allow pharma to offer healthcare professionals and patients more value. Important work is being done across the industry to capitalise on this, and the pipeline is full of promise and excitement.

One huge advocate of digital innovation and the multiple benefits it brings for pharma is Davidek Herron, Global Head of Digital at Roche. This issue’s catalyst interviewee, Herron is a firm believer that digital is the most effective way to drive outcomes at scale and that its beauty lies in its ability to “enable and empower our people” and “enhance our current ways of working”. It’s not, he says, about digital replacing people.

Herron discusses digital transformation and recent advancements in artificial intelligence, as well as the transferrable skills he brought to pharma from his previous career as a professional basketball player – it’s an interesting read!

While the integration of more digital tools is generally positive, as reflected in many of this issue’s pages, some of the avenues of future digital development are considered risky. Our cover feature, The reality of the metaverse, delves deep into the heart of this hot topic and the differing opinions as to whether the metaverse is something pharma should embrace. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that, when used in the right way, the metaverse could be impactful, particularly when it comes to training programmes. But there are as many, if not more, concerns ranging from safety to ethics. Ultimately, the message is to proceed with caution, if at all.

An area in which the need for caution has been removed in recent times is real-world data and real-world evidence. Our feature focuses on new guidance from the FDA regarding its expectations around the integration of this form of evidence generation at all stages of the drug lifecycle. While there are concerns as to whether the guidance goes far enough, it certainly tackles a lot of unanswered questions and opens up a whole host of extra potential for pharma going forwards.

This interview features in GOLD 21 – read the full issue here.

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