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Pharma 2020: Virtual R&D – Which path will you take?



Pharma 2020: Virtual R&D, the pharmaceutical industry is at a pivotal point in its evolution, particularly in relation to research and development. The patent on many of the medicines launched in the 1990s will expire over the next few years, leaving many companies very exposed; only four out of ten companies have enough products in their pipelines to fill the impending revenue gap. Pharma 2020: Virtual R&D – Which path will you take?, the second paper in the PwC Pharma 2020 series, explores how pharma companies could dramatically improve the R&D productivity. It contends that by 2020 the R&D process may be shortened by two-thirds, success rates may dramatically increase, and clinical trial costs could be cut substantially. New computer based technologies will create a greater understanding of the biology of disease and the evolution of "Virtual man"; to enable researchers to predict the effects of new drug candidates before they enter human beings. Along with changes underway in the regulatory and socio-political environment, this will enable Pharma to overcome one of the most fundamental issues it needs to resolve over the next decade.

The second paper in the PwC Pharma 2020 series, this report provides a visionary perspective on the change drivers that will impact research and development productivity and offer greater opportunities for the development of more, truly innovative products giving greater benefit to healthcare payers, providers and patients, and greater value for the companies involved. 

The report suggests new technologies and the development of a virtual R&D process will improve our understanding of the underlying biology of the human body and its diseases, allowing researchers to better predict the effects of new drug candidates before they enter human beings. It discusses the fact that these changes could enable the shortening of the R&D process by up to two thirds, a dramatic reduction in attrition rates and a substantial reduction in the costs of clinical trials.

In order to capitalise on the opportunities these changes afford, the report explores the implications for today’s pharma company and the issues it must address if it is to operate most effectively in what will be a more connected and demanding world. These implications and the risks and choices involved will vary across companies. Typical challenges may include; deciding which elements of the innovation process to pursue and retain in-house versus accessing via new types of strategic partnership the operational changes needed to improve speed of response for the differing types of innovative treatments, the impact of migrating from the current linear phase R&D process towards in-life testing and live licensing, approaches to collaborating more closely with regulators and health care providers about pricing, demonstrating efficacy, outcome benefit and value for money, the future role of differing channels to market, the supply chain and the opportunities this offers your organisation as a source of revenue generation, the implications for your business model and human capital issues.

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Fedaiisf Federazione delle Associazioni Italiane degli Informatori Scientifici del Farmaco e del Parafarmaco