The pandemic has shifted the way that many industries have evolved, encouraging a greater focus on technology. Being directly implicated by COVID-19, pharmaceutical healthcare is one of the industries most profoundly impacted.
With momentum achieved, the pharmaceutical industry has moved to the fast lane. Consider that the global pharmaceutical manufacturing market size was valued at USD 406 billion in 2020. It’s predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of ~11% from 2021 to 2028.
The emergence of new technologies and efficient processes has introduced several pharma health tech trends - many of which are worth watching. Each of these trends is contributing to a positive outlook for the healthcare industry in the MENA region.
What Are The Leading Pharma Health Tech Trends?
There has been a paradigm shift toward integrated and data-rich operations that reduce the risk of error and amplify precision. Consider the following eight pharma health tech trends that are emerging in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and beyond:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Wearable Tech Integration
- Data Management & Analytics
- Single-Use Processes
- Precision Medicine
- In-Silico Testing
- Real-World Data
AI is playing a pivotal role in the healthcare industry, mainly through machine learning which is improving the precision of predictions and optimizing data analytics. With the help of AI tools, healthcare processes become more efficient, and the clinical burden is reduced.
Throughout 2021, the healthcare AI market has demonstrated great value, expecting to reach $6.6 billion by the end of the year (an impressive CAGR of 40% from 2014). The industry has already witnessed the arrival of computed tomography scan analysis, symptom checker chatbots, and more.
The UAE is the first country in the world to have a designated minister for AI in an effort to bring a technological revolution to the country. The ministry is focused on the finance and healthcare sectors.
Since then, the UAE has rolled out various AI tools and developments. For example, Enayati is an AI-based preventative healthcare platform that has the capability to predict possible health risks and monitor health indicators.
Wearable Tech Integration
Wearable tech hands power over to the patients, giving them the opportunity to manage their conditions and make critical decisions. In turn, wearable tech gives pharma companies more time to manufacture and research new medication.
An example of wearable tech integration in action includes a glucose meter that allows diabetic patients to keep track of their glucose levels.
Another example is the Bluetooth device that tracks oxygen saturation, temperature, and heart rate, alerting high-risk COVID-19 patients in Abu Dhabi of any abnormalities with their vitals. Healthcare staff can monitor the data on a dashboard. In this way, healthcare professionals can keep an eye on patients and step in when needed.
Data Management & Analytics
Research and development (R&D) are essential to moving forward, yet it demands a large investment of both time and money. Data management plays a pivotal role in research, and technology streamlines the process. R&D can be accelerated with the help of technology, making the investment stretch further.
Big data and analytics also have the power to support disease prevention by improving precision medicine, connecting global healthcare industries, and more.
As the year unfolds, more focus will be put on data management and analytics and bridging the healthcare research gap. Success demands a combination of government investment, highly skilled scientific and healthcare talent, and the right regulatory environment to safely explore health and biotech innovation.
Pharma companies are shifting to adopt single-use technology (SUT) in the manufacturing process. SUT allows them to manufacture reliable products at a larger scale while reducing downtime.
For example, single-use bioreactors simplify operations and improve turnaround time, while reducing the risk of cross-contamination. Equipment that runs on SUT is known to be easy to set up, simple to maintain, and requires minimum monitoring.
SUT is a fairly new technology, but its far-reaching benefits have caught the attention of pharmaceutical companies around the world.
Precision medicine uses technology to assess a patient’s genes and lifestyle in order to produce accurate, data-backed deductions. There’s an increased effort in sharing the advantages and research of precision medicine, such as the PrecisionMed Expo and Summit (hosted in Dubai in 2022).
While “precision medicine” is a fairly new term, it is considered to hold great potential in the MENA region. For example, Israel is accelerating precision medicine due to the country’s vast scope and high reliability of genomic databases. The increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, has also placed precision medicine as a priority for the UAE.
Bioprinting solves the financial struggle of clinical testing by using 3D printing techniques to imitate natural human tissues and organs. A combination of cells, growth factors, and biomaterials form a mesh-like structure that can be used in clinical trials.
Bioprinting offers the benefits of testing drug toxicity, testing disease treatment procedures, and measuring a drug’s metabolic effect in living tissue. Due to the many benefits of bioprinting, governments are incorporating the technology. For example, the UAE Health Ministry has introduced 4D bioprinting technology to treat wounds and burns in surgery.
In-silico testing uses molecular databases and virtual modeling to discover active ingredients and help to lead cosmetic product development. Normally, product development is expensive and time-consuming, but in-silico testing helps streamline these costs.
Incorporating in-silico testing involves a combination of databases and simulation software that stores molecular information and studies how they interact with proteins. Taking in-silico testing one step ahead, the technology can help biological research in food toxicology research and the development of drugs.
Real-world data (RWD) plays a crucial role in making health care decisions. RWD is being embraced by global organizations as the need for real-world evidence (RWE) becomes more apparent. Healthcare professionals are using both RWD and RWE to analyze data and improve product development.
RWD is expected to play a fundamental role in future emerging trends by connecting global pharma industries. It’s valuable in collecting accurate patient experiences to enhance developments.
RWD is being embraced all around the world, including the UAE, which makes an effort to join global efforts and expand clinical research opportunities. For example, the UAE’s Mediclinic Middle East has joined the TriNetX Network, a global health research network.
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