In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have begun to embrace a more collaborative way of working to help overcome some of the challenges the industry is facing. Challenges such as pharmacovigilance, medication adherence and patient engagement – to name a few – can gain advantages by collaborating with new opportunities.

New technology, new opportunities

Technology’s effect on healthcare is only beginning and likely to increase.

Technology has the potential to change several aspects of healthcare from helping discover new treatments to managing how we deliver patient care. For example, technology like the internet of things like sensors and devices are already showing potential for remotely monitoring patients. There is also scope for more tech partnerships to develop products to help realize the vision of delivering personalized medicine.

Partnering with technology companies is just one way the pharmaceutical sector can avoid wasting money on pursuing research into treatments that later turn out not to be viable.

Complex diseases are a new priority

The rise of conditions like diabetes and Alzheimer’s is putting a huge amount of pressure on the health system, so tackling them is a priority. Alzheimer’s disease affects more than half a million people in the UK. Globally, the number of people living with dementia is expected to increase from 50m this year to 152m in 2050.

The Prime Minister’s 2020 Challenge on Dementia laid out a series of plans to help tackle the crisis. They set out the ambitious aim to find a cure by 2025 but finding treatments for brain diseases is incredibly complex and can’t be done without collaboration.

The Dementia Discovery Fund was set up to pool funding from the private, public and philanthropic sectors. Such collaborations are also important for sharing knowledge between experts. The UK has already won major Innovative Medicine Initiative grants to support multinational academic-pharma partnerships.

In the US, the Accelerating Medicines Partnership was launched in 2014 to foster collaboration between industry and non-profit organizations to tackle complex diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Last month they made datasets on these illnesses available to the research community. Such information could lead to research targets which may produce new treatments.

The emergence of patient power

Patients are no longer content to be passive receivers of healthcare but instead want to help shape it around their needs.

This development is something that is being recognized by healthcare providers like the NHS, and pharmaceutical companies are taking note too. They are putting more of a focus on the outcomes that matter to patients. According to research by the drug development company Covance, 84% of senior decision makers in the field of clinical development agree that pharmaceutical companies must incorporate the patient voice in drug development more effectively.

By engaging with patients, they also stand to benefit from the insights they have into the diseases they are trying to treat. A recent paper from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations said collaborating with patients is leading to “better trials, better engagement, better communication throughout the entire life cycle of medicines—and ultimately better patient outcomes.”

Final thoughts 

Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies may not have embraced collaborative working, but now it has become a necessity we are likely to see it become more common. With new technology, both for patients and medical staff and how diseases are becoming more sophisticated, the pharmaceutical industry has to adapt. Collaboration is the crucial key.