Leveraging Technology for Pharmaceutical Commercialization

Pharmaceutical commercialization is a lengthy and complex process, and just like the development of the drug itself, it’s about getting the exact right formulation. The fact that it has to happen 18 to 24 months prior to product approval doesn’t make things any easier, but technology can help accurately gauge demand, improve pharma manufacturing processes, establish pharmaceutical supply chains, and track the end user to ensure diseases are being fought in the best way possible.

The cost to bring a drug to market is astronomical, and it has risen rapidly in the past few years. According to research from GlobalData, the process cost an average of $1.58 billion in 2015. By 2019, that number had risen to $1.98 billion. Fortunately, applying technology to different parts of the process can improve efficiency and drive three key areas: speed, scale, and security.

AI/ML, cognitive and automation in the pharmaceutical industry will become a key enabler including the commercialization process because these neural networks can allow pharma companies to potentially foresee events based on what has happened in the past. As per the industry report approximately about 40% of product launches fail and we believe with technology and data enablement we can reduce this failure rate. By looking at the commercialization of one drug, for instance, and identifying similar variables in another, patient segmentation with real world data, companies can predict outcomes with a fairly high probability and reduce risk in the commercialization process.

One factor preventing the rise of information technology in the pharmaceutical industry is the lack of tech talent in the industry. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other emerging pharmaceutical technologies require sophisticated skills, adoption of these technologies by the industry and research from GlobalData illustrates that the lack of these skills is the main obstacle preventing digital transformation and with COVID-19 pandemic the industry is pushed to adopt technology much faster than we all thought of.

Information technology leaders work with a variety of pharmaceutical clients delivering technology enabled transformation to conduct business better and efficiently, from the development of Salesforce-based platforms for a global multinational to the creation and implementation of a collaborative care platform to support patient engagement for client to enabling predictive insights and strategy for commercial operations. In our experience, technology can offer incredible opportunities for pharmaceutical companies, but only if they leverage it properly by following these three steps.

1. Digitize now

Digital is a new wave in pharma and across the world, empowering a better customer experience and near real-time connectivity within the Six P Ecosystem: Patients, Payers, Providers, Pharma companies, Pharmacies, and Policies by the Government are all part of a complex network of relationships. With the right digital tools in place, pharma companies can glean insights from all of the different interactions that hasten the commercialization process and deliver better success. That might involve information about the demand curve for a similar drug or the ability to see which tools were most effective in educating pharmacists about a new product and to help in engaging with HCPs.

2. Keep patients front and center

Pharma started to know more about their new customer, the patient, One of the most advantageous aspects of technology is its ability to connect companies and patients. Not long ago, a customer would walk into a pharmacy and buy a product without leaving a trace. Today, pharmaceutical technology can help establish a feedback loop that connects the experiences patients are having with the precise batch of product. This information improves the safety and efficacy of drugs by making it easier to determine when there might be a problem with the molecule versus a problem with shipping or spoilage. The feedback loop also ensures drugs are reaching their intended recipients, which is particularly important for potentially addictive or controlled drugs.

3. Rely on cloud-based SaaS platforms

Pharmaceutical companies are going to the cloud in a big way, and with good reason. The cloud is enabling the rollout of new technologies almost instantly and on a global scale. This improved agility reducing operating expenses and has the potential to revolutionize the commercialization process. According to GlobalData’s 2020 report “Digital Transformation and Emerging Technology in the Healthcare Industry,” 56% of professionals in the pharma industry agree that cloud computing was earning the majority of investment dollars in 2020.

Pharma and technology have gone hand in hand for some time now, but the true value is in integrating disparate parts of the technology ecosystem and bringing them together under one umbrella. Industry realized that the data is their new currency but most of the industry is still struggling to consume the data to the extent. Wipro serves as a Global System Integrator (GSI) to bring together market participants such as Salesforce, SAP from a manufacturing standpoint; and Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and IBM for cloud services; technologies to analyze the data in near real-time. Instead of data gathering dust, thoughtful digital integration can ensure the data is providing insights all the way to the edge of the company to serve their new customer – The Patient.

From one of the analysts’ recent report, the insight is very clear that the technology enabled companies like Wipro are in the leadership quadrant to provide business services and all the conventional Functional Services Providers, CROs are lagging/placed in Major contenders. This is the clear indication that it is the time for the industry to adopt Digital, AI/ML Technologies to move ahead as we are into the future of the healthcare industry.

Srini Rajamani is Vice President & Sector Head – Consumer and Life Sciences, Wipro Limited.