Personalized Medicine: Game-Changer For Life Sciences

Susan Rafizadeh

Life sciences professionals know that there’s no such thing as business as usual. But the coming years are set to bring even more change than normal, with the rise of personalized medicine ushering in massive changes. How life sciences companies research and develop drugs and medical devices will change, as will how they procure, manufacture, hire, and sell. There isn’t a business process that personalized medicine won’t affect, in large and small ways. Let’s look at some examples:

Research and development

Personalized medicine is changing how researchers go about looking for new drug targets. Specific patient populations will be segmented around biomarkers and risk indicators. Personalized medicine will be accompanied by a holistic, collaborative care approach in which life science companies, doctors, and patients work together to fulfill the needs of each individual patient. For personalized medicine to advance, researches need to collect, analyze, and report on big data in many formats, from multiple sources. Technology innovations will be the key to obtaining fast, precise analysis while still securing data privacy and security. New R&D collaboration networks will continue to evolve, combining multiple types of expertise to generate new insights more quickly.

Personalized medicine implies that the number of patients responding well to a specific drug or therapy is limited. With very small patient populations, organizations will need to find new ways to efficiently match patients with clinical studies. They’ll also need to rethink how drugs can gain regulatory approval with few clinical trials.

Operational excellence

With personalized medicine, production batch sizes will get smaller and smaller, eliminating the ability for procurement to negotiate based on volume. Batch sizes of one may very well become routine. At the same time, delivery times must speed up. How manufacturers contract with suppliers will change completely, yielding supplier performance criteria based on flexibility, fast response, and small quantities. Supply chains will need to become much more agile. All this means that companies will need to both manage operational processes and collaborate in real time.

One thing won’t change: Patient safety is paramount, and marketing authorization holders must ensure that drugs and devices are manufactured at the highest quality, in compliance with all regulations. And as batch sizes shrink, the sheer number of personalized medicines in a portfolio will add complexity and cost.

Sales, marketing, and service

Some life sciences companies will shift from a blockbuster model to larger, more complex portfolios of personalized drugs. To support this new approach, they will need to predict complex market trends using real-time analysis. They’ll also need to tailor communication with doctors, stakeholders, and various customer segments.

Personalized therapies may appear to be more expensive, but the mid- to long-term objective is an overall cost decrease through better patient outcomes. Payors will be keeping a close watch on the cost of personalized therapies. Life science companies will need to prove the superiority of personalized medicine for individual patients, versus options that may at first appear less costly.

Talent management

With all these changes, life science companies will also need to attract new types of talent. They will need highly skilled professionals who understand science, industry dynamics, and the change management required to support new strategies.

Learn more

Personalized medicine will make its mark on almost every life sciences business process, making the notion of “business as usual” a thing of the past. For more insights, visit the SAP Personalized Medicine online hub, or continue the discussion on Twitter @SAP_Healthcare.

Susan Rafizadeh

About Susan Rafizadeh

Susan Rafizadeh is the director of Global Marketing for Life Sciences Industries at SAP. In her role, she writes publications on innovation topics in the life sciences industry covering pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and biotech as well as looking after life sciences marketing across the globe. Before joining SAP, she led the Customer Relations team at TechniData, a company offering IT solutions for sustainability; here she was responsible for building and developing relationships with future and existing customers. She has more than 15 years’ experience in marketing and communications in various roles, including journalism, being an analyst in an economics institute and content creation and production for specialized conferences, mainly focusing on highly regulated industries.