For years on end, the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry has been enjoying success and growth. It has increased its market both in the developed and developing world. However, several changes and setbacks have been hitting the industry now and then, forcing the major companies to revisit their strategies or devise new ones. They have had to deal with several issues that pull the sector behind. Here are the top five common challenges that are still troubling the industry in 2021.
1. Struggle to Develop Medicine Able to Cure Today’s Incurable Diseases
This has been one of the most significant challenges to affect the pharmaceutical industry. Currently, several incurable diseases continue to overpower human beings and claim their lives. All eyes are on the industry to come up with new cures for these diseases. Such conditions include several cancers and Alzheimer’s Disease.
The industry has been trying to do so for quite a long time. Significant investments have been made, and continuous research is done to solve the problem once and for all. Alternative innovative treatment methods that can work would go a long way in helping the industry win this battle.
2. Stagnant Scientific Productivity
The last ten years have seen the big Pharma experience a standstill, especially when it comes to new drug output. Unfortunately, this is set to continue, bearing in mind that the discovery and development processes still remain the same as what they have been doing in the past. If the situation remains the same, the industry will most likely continue to struggle with all the other challenges.
It is worth noting that as much as the industry has a part to play in correcting this, it is not a problem solvable overnight. We will not just wake up one morning and found an improved drug discovery or improved productivity. It is much more of an art than it is a science. For example, organisms such as bacteria develop more and more resistance to antibiotics every passing day.
3. COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic had drastic effects on world economies and industries; the pharmaceutical industry was no exception. The health market was generally hit. It became harder for pharmaceutical firms to maintain their natural market flow, the mobility of goods, the availability of workers, and the supply chain. The disease has claimed many lives, especially in developing countries. For example, Iran registered a consistent death ratio of 1.39%.
Some of the short term effects of the pandemic to the industry are;
- Changes in demand
- Supply shortages
- Remote interactions
- A shift in the means of communication used
The pandemic is also expected to impact the industry in the long run. For example, it has been seen that due to the pressure to try and manage the disease, approval for non-COVID-related products has been experiencing months of delay due to the postponement of application reviews.
The disease has not been found a treatment yet. However, the pharmaceutical industry is playing its part in assisting governments in meeting COVID 19 needs. The industry is taking part in development and research actions and coming up with potential treatment strategies.
4. Scrutiny from Healthcare Payers
A while ago, it was not easy for healthcare payers to measure performance and compare various medications’ economic returns. With the increased use of electronic medical records, the payers can now demand pricing based on patient outcomes and results.
How is this a pharmaceutical challenge? It becomes a problem when you combine this with the rising focus to contain healthcare costs. Healthcare payers are now squeezing drug makers on how much they are willing to pay for super drugs.
In developing countries, most of the protection laws and property rights favor generic drug makers to reduce drugs’ cost and make it easy for local domestic producers to access the market. This has made it hard for the big Pharma companies to make a breakthrough in such markets.
5. Soaring Drug Prices
Why does it have to cost patients a fortune for drugs, some of which are not even curative? Many drug prescriptions can cost you more than $130,000 annually, some even nearly closing to a million. The government, for example, spends almost 17%of its total healthcare expenditure on drugs.
Pharmaceutical companies have come out to explain the bank-breaking costs, claiming that they have to ensure that the sales provide them the resources required to invest in their research and development processes.