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Author's profile photo Susan Rafizadeh

True Disruptive Innovation in Life Sciences – This is Just the Beginning!

The Life Sciences industry is changing dramatically, for many reasons. Not only patent expirations are a driving force behind this. The needs from patients and care providers are rapidly evolving. For example, patients are hyper-connected to the internet and to one another. According to a survey by McKinsey in 2014, more than 75% of all patients expect to use digital services in the future, as long as those services meet their needs and provide the level of quality they expect. At the same time, scientific complexity is also increasing. Chronic diseases will continue to be hard to tackle, and due to ageing populations and other factors, as per WHO deaths by chronic diseases are projected to reach 52 million annually 2030. Further, there are also other incurable diseases, populations are ageing, globalization is unstoppable, and more and more countries are moving towards healthcare reforms that pay per outcomes, i.e. they will start reimburse according to the efficacy of a therapy.

In the face of these trends, true transformation will not come from smaller incremental improvements, but rather from finding innovative ways to do things fundamentally differently. The game has already started. Here just a few of many possible examples of front-runners:

  • Genentech launched the first drug for specific genetic markers to fight breast cancer. Herceptin was approved for all HER2 positive women in 1998. Herceptin is still very successful in sales, as it has been among the top 10 best-selling drugs in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Since the late 90s, many other therapies for specific genetic arrays have been introduced, and life sciences companies have been including genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics
    and other –omics into their research in order to further develop personalized medicine. The market for personalized medicine will have reached 2,452 billion USD by 2022 globally – and obtaining first-mover advantages will be key to become a market leader.
  • Novartis is working towards the ability to manufacture for batch-sizes of one in order to offer T-cell receptors to enable tumor-targeting therapies. In this therapy a patient’s own T cells are reprogramed to “hunt” cancer cells that express specific proteins. After they have been reprogrammed, the T cells are re-introduced into the patient’s blood; they proliferate and bind to the targeted cancer cells and potentially kill these tumor cells. This will imply
    to use technology for on a single patient level.

  • And, Alphabet, formerly known as Google, is developing smart lenses that read glucose levels in tears. This will not only be differentiating as it avoids inconveniently taking blood drops at specific times, but as it will continuously be able measure the values. The contact lens will further be able to communicate the values to other devices automatically, which can trigger alerts and workflows for the patients and doctors, and enable connected care scenarios. The market for glucose monitoring alone will grow to 568.5 million USD by 2020. Similar connected care scenarios are applicable for many other chronic diseases as well as for wellbeing and prevention.

There are of course a lot of more life sciences companies that have developed astonishing innovation. Other examples than personalized medicine, precise manufacturing, or connected health include bionic 3D-printing, artificial intelligence built into medical devices, as well as much smarter collaboration across the life sciences value chain. Behind the scenes, market leaders not only in pharma, medical devices, and biotech, but also from consumer products, high tech and other industries are researching on the next breakthrough business model that could change the landscape in life sciences.

What are your competitive advantages today, and how could latest business and technology trends disrupt them? What major challenges are you currently facing, and how might new technologies help you solve them?

Join the conversation on Twitter on @SAP_Healthcare and watch out for the hashtag #SAPDigital-LS-Enterprise. Last not least, read the blog by accenture which summarizes the SAP Digital Life Sciences Enterprise event which took place on September 22, 2015 in Princeton, New Jersey.

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