Words by Cheyenne Eugene
The outlook for the coming year is one of positivity and progress, but what key trends and themes do industry experts predict will be in store for the pharma industry over the next 12 months?
Like an ouroboros, the tail of 2021 is closely followed by the head of 2022, consuming the wisdom and shortcomings of the year just spent. But unlike the ancient symbol, this year is not set to follow the same fate as last. Instead, a new, optimistic path is being forged.
Transforming clinical trials
While clinical trials have been slowly meandering towards a transformation in recent years, the global health crisis of COVID-19 really picked up the pace and forced the creation of innovative solutions. New records are expected to be set in 2022, with estimates that around 1,300 trials with a decentralised and/or virtual component will commence in 2022 – a 28% increase from the previous year.
Speaking on the GOLD Podcast’s 2022 Pharma Forecast episode, Julie Ross, President, Advanced Clinical, commented that as well as this move towards more remote clinical trials, diversity will become more important than ever within a clinical trial context. She highlights that in the past, products have been developed and brought to market that represent controlled sets of data markers for a predominantly Caucasian population. Ross is optimistic that 2022 will hold representative trials that actively include a diverse range of patient subsets.
Collaboration has been the wind in the sails of success throughout the COVID-19 crisis. However, unlike the pandemic, this collaborative approach is not something that anyone wishes to draw to a close. Instead, there’s a multitude of areas in which the power of partnership will develop and flourish.
Florent Edouard, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Commercial Excellence, Grünenthal Group, shares the interesting perspective that 2022 will see the rise of community collaboration. He suggests that people who have spent the last two years apart will have built new networks through online platforms and digital resources, such as video calls. Edouard says that a lot can be taken from the “typically Gen-Z way of learning and communicating”, which utilises online communities and tools, and implies that this will become an increasingly important part of the workplace culture, particularly in pharma.
Jennifer Cain Birkmose, Vice President and Global Head of Patient Access and Community Engagement, Sobi, believes there is a huge amount of opportunity in public-private partnerships and cross-sector collaboration in terms of drug discovery and development. Like Edouard, Cain Birkmose is convinced that collaboration will become the new way of working.
Hybridisation is key
A large proportion of the global workforce is now familiar with the contemporary hybrid working model that has been widely adopted since the beginning of the current health crisis. As highlighted by GOLD’s industry guests, hybridisation is a wide net that not only encompasses this workplace shift, but other aspects of business, too.
Kay Wesley, Chief Executive, Kanga Health, believes that hybrid online and in-person medical congresses will be fortified in 2022 and beyond. Wesley says that while 2020/1 saw many congresses try to emulate the traditional format, this did not always work or necessarily align with what attendees wanted. She is confident that a new style of hybrid congresses will see a redesign in the weaving of digital touchpoints and face-to-face interactions that can be enriching for both those online and in the room.
Dealing with data
A final prediction shared across the industry revolves around the way the industry will use and access data. Throughout the pandemic, there has been an increase in the use of real-world evidence and data, be that through real-time interactive dashboards or a wider adoption of data management tools. Ross touches on the implementation of synthetic data methods within clinical trials and how it can be a useful way to cut costs – an issue often associated with the clinical trial process. Wesley suggests that the industry will adopt existing resources and data pools to help design trials and it is this that will contribute to the best outcomes for patients.