It’s no secret that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is one of the biggest industries in the country. It pulls in hundreds of billions of dollars each year (estimated at $500 billion for 2019) and the market is continuously growing. However, like any industry, it is necessary to adapt as medical and technological advances are made and as new health concerns arise. Therefore, what the future holds for the pharmaceutical industry may look nothing like the present.
Michael Basco, MD, is a Dallas, Texas-based doctor and medical director with extensive experience in healthcare, managed care, and health IT. He’s also a subject matter expert to aid healthcare providers and insurance decision-makers in selecting the best products for value-based care using Pharmacoeconomics, evidence-based medicine, payer dynamics, and population health. Michael Basco will be the first person to tell you that the pharmaceutical industry needs to constantly evolve in order to meet the changing demands of the population. He points to a few key changes that have occurred recently, which he believes will reshape the pharmaceutical marketplace. For example, chronic disease is on the rise, healthcare policy makers and payers are increasingly dictating what doctors can prescribe, governments are turning the focus away from treatment and towards prevention, regulators are becoming more risk-averse, and pay-for-performance is on the rise.
All these changes serve to highlight the new circumstances that the pharmaceutical industry is currently facing and must address. Below, Michael Basco, MD, outlines four new directions that he predicts the pharmaceutical industry will take in the years to come.
It’s no secret that medications affect people differently. That is why Michael Basco, MD believes that the future of the pharmaceutical industry lies in individualized care. By individualized care, he is referring to the concept of creating medications that work for each individual patient, versus creating medications specific to a disease. This individualized care would consider each person’s .03% DNA difference that makes medication more effective for some people and less effective for others. Medical researchers have already begun to understand why some patients have a sensitive reaction and experience certain symptoms to a type of medication when others do not. Taking this a step further would add a biological component to the development of pharmaceuticals, which is very much lacking in the industry as it stands.
As with many industries that exist at the moment, the future of pharma is all about embracing technology. According to Dr. Michael Basco, smart pharma companies are already starting to build partnerships with the tech industry to improve the capabilities of their products. A move towards technology would help shift the focus onto prevention, instead of treatment. Examples of what a technologically integrated pharmaceutical industry looks like include the use of cognitive behavioral therapy chatbots for managing depression or apps that help diabetic patients monitor their blood sugar levels.
We’re currently in the midst of the information age, so we might as well embrace it, suggests Michael Basco. MD. Consumer engagement has always driven the pharmaceutical industry, but now, more than ever before, consumers are informed and want to be involved in their treatment plans. Due to the vast amount of information accessible via the internet, the amount of medical knowledge that the average patient possesses has skyrocketed. This helps keep healthcare providers more informed and overall, makes them better equipped to treat a disease, or even prevent it. This whole process is key when it comes to pharmaceuticals as it has facilitated a shift from a reactionary state to a more informed, preventative state.
4.New Marketing Strategies
This may seem trivial, but how medications are marketed plays a huge role in their success, and the success of the industry as a whole. According to Michael Basco, MD, the current aggressive marketing model is no longer working, which is why he is advocating for a few major changes when it comes to marketing strategies.
Firstly, future marketing strategies need to consider the interdependence of the payer, provider, and pharmaceutical value chains. Second, companies need to invest in creating medications that consumers want to buy. Thirdly, studies have shown that consumers want more flexible pricing, so Dr. Basco also recommends this be incorporated into the marketing of new products. Finally, pharmaceutical companies should be forging alliances with other companies to offer supporting services for those who are prescribed the medications they’re selling.