Top 5 trends that will take over Asia Pacific’s pharma scene in 2020

It has been an exciting year for the pharma industry with greater focus on research and development (R&D), productivity and disruptions of health technology.


A year of mergers and acquisitions in 2019

Mergers and acquisitions within the pharmaceutical industry is common, especially when it brings about greater opportunities and returns in the market.

Based on GlobalData’s report, below are the top 5 deals that were made in 2019:


  1. AbbVie’s acquisition of Allergan
  2. Pfizer acquisition of Array BioPharma
  3. Novartis’ asset transaction with Takeda Pharmaceutical
  4. Merck &Inc acquisition of Peloton Therapeutics
  5. Novartis’ acquisition of IFM Tre


Mergers and acquisitions encourage innovation, yielding faster and more-effective development of new drugs that can drive market value. Apart from merger deals, 2019 was also a year full of innovation and improved regulations and these are set to continue into 2020.  


Will 2020 be another big year for pharma?

We examine below the trends that will take precedence in 2020 and beyond.


  • Precision Medicine and Patient-centric Care

Precision medicine will be a key factor within the growing trend of personalised patient care in the region. A high-level understanding of the disease and individual needs of the patient will be required to make optimum use of all the new information and provide more effective care.


For example, Merck has built a framework with the ultimate objective of delivering better patient outcomes. By listening and incorporating the voices of patient organisations, patient communities and carers, they are investing their efforts in areas where patients have expressed increased efforts to meet their needs. Merck is currently in close collaboration with patients to shape clinical trials and to deliver data that makes a true difference for patients. This is crucial to ensure that the endpoints and objectives of our trials are in the interest of the patient community.


  • Big Data for predictive care

While big data has proven to be a key enabler for new drug discoveries, and has  improved clinical trials, this year it is set to support the development of precision medicine. This is where diagnosis and treatment of disorders is carried out using relevant data about a patient’s genetic make-up, environmental factors, and behavioural patterns.

With this approach, pharmaceutical companies can develop personalised medicines that are suitable for an individual patient’s genes and current lifestyle. Also, precision medicine can predict susceptibility to certain disorders and enhance disorder detection.  


  • More advanced digital health devices

In today’s 21st century of modern technology, digital health devices have supported people to gather data and track their health statistics effectively and on-the-go. For an individual, almost every smartphone’s operating system has a built-in app to make basic measurements in the background of our daily life.


For pharmaceutical organisations, one is able to conduct personalised trials for new treatments, conduct drone-delivered medications, and enhance its sustainable manufacturing process.


Leading the APAC region, Japan’s medtech companies are flourishing with greater emphasis on innovation and R&D. For example, Medirom, a healthtech company based in Japan, has announced that it will be working with MATRIX Industries, a Silicon Valley material science company, to deliver the world’s first health monitoring smart-band that never requires charging named MOTHER.


Another Japanese company, Xenoma, unveiled a new tech sleepwear that promises to monitor sleep and activity levels, as well as when a person has slipped or fallen. This builds on the company’s existing products, which include a smart tracksuit and shirt.


  • Embracing the Cloud

Cloud data management has played a transformative role in the industry of regulation. Cloud-based data systems can drastically speed up the drug regulation process. Currently, companies submit data to regulators via disjointed platforms and in closed templates.


While the move towards the use of continuous manufacturing techniques has been slow, more and more facilities are choosing continuous manufacturing processes when introducing a new product.


In addition, regulators continue to allay fears in the industry regarding approval delays for drugs produced using continuous manufacturing techniques.

Cloud-based systems can streamline regulatory submissions by using a common data storage platform, which will help get treatments to patients faster.


  • Continuous Manufacturing

Continuous manufacturing involves a pharmaceutical product being produced nonstop in one continuous manufacturing process. The entire process takes place in one facility, start to finish, without hold times.


The benefits of continuous manufacturing includes:


  • Reduced manufacturing costs, particularly in the long term
  • Shorter production times – reducing manufacturing times from weeks to days is not unusual
  • Reduces the risk of human error
  • Improves quality
  • Monitoring is more efficient as continuous manufacturing processes typically use automated monitoring techniques and predictive maintenance


As an example, GSK Singapore opened two continuous manufacturing facilities in 2019 to expedite its product and market launch, and improve its supply chain agility. GSK is among the early adopters of continuous processing, improving capacity and cutting costs and environmental impact by about 50%. GSK also said it has used the technology leap to develop digital technologies that speed up production.


Are you ready to take on 2020 in pharma?

As seen from above, technology trends within the pharma space will persist in 2020 and organisations will be on the lookout for candidates with the tech know-how. If your firm is looking to build up your pipeline in the coming year, or if you are a candidate looking out for the latest emerging tech roles in the market, please reach out to us via the contact form below. For more industry updates, please connect with us via our LinkedIn.


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