Misinformation and future of work among several key trends to watch out for in pharmaceutical industry in 2021

The pharmaceutical industry will be shaped by several emerging trends in 2021. The industry will need to adapt quickly post-COVID-19 by overcoming the spread of online misinformation and preparing for a new way of working, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest report, ‘The State of the Biopharmaceutical Industry 2021’, identified several trends to watch out for in the pharmaceutical industry this year, such as misinformation and future of work. Others include sustainability, Brexit, the US election and digital health.

Kitty Whitney, MSc, Director of Thematic Research, comments: “The spread of online misinformation, especially on social media, is an increasing public health concern. On the cusp of one of the largest immunization programs in history, fake news and conspiracy theories about COVID-19, including vaccines, has the potential to severely undermine these efforts.

“In addition, COVID-19 has led to rapid and profound changes to the way people work, which will leave a lasting legacy across industries. For pharma, this will lead to permanent changes across its value chain.”

In sales and marketing, there has been a transition to online platforms that allow remote engagement with physicians. Clinical trial investigators have increased use of remote patient monitoring, connected devices, and telemedicine, which will continue in line with a shift towards virtual trials. Manufacturers will accelerate the adoption of technologies to mitigate potential risks to supply chain disruptions, including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and digital twins.

Whitney continues: “Sustainability will continue to be an important theme in 2021, as pharma continues to grapple with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, such as lack of transparency on pricing, price gouging and kickbacks. From a political point of view, the Joe Biden presidency and Democrat control of House and the Senate will have major implications for the industry over the next four years, including broader healthcare coverage, drug pricing reforms, and a federal-led strategy to tackle the pandemic.”

Brexit will continue to generate concerns about research and manufacturing funding, supply chain disruptions, reduction in UK-based clinical trials, increased drug pricing, and a reduction in talent attraction across life sciences.

Finally, there will be an increased focus on digital health, with COVID-19 causing increased demand for alternatives to in-person care, including telemedicine, remote patient monitoring, and digital therapeutics.

Whitney adds: “Removal of certain barriers to telemedicine use is likely to remain permanent, while the digital therapeutics landscape has expanded significantly since 2018, with rapid growth expected over the next decade. One area that has proven to be particularly suitable to digital health is mental and behavioral health. The pandemic caused seismic shifts across the pharma industry and we are now witnessing the impact of trends that were barely considered before.”

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