Advances in Biopharma Sciences, Genomics to Drive Pharma's Future, Experts Say
Tremendous advances in the biopharmaceutical sciences, including in the field of genomics, have given pharmaceutical firms vast amounts of new information on which to develop drugs -- a key development that will fundamentally change the way drugmakers operate, industry experts say.
The drug-development process is going to move from molecule management to information management, said Juan Enriquez, chairman and CEO of Biotechonomy, a life sciences research and investment firm. "That is a very different business," he said in a panel discussion on research and discovery at the PhRMA annual meeting.
The changes could be as sweeping as the advent of digital photography was to the camera film industry, he noted. Film giant Kodak went from hiring chemical engineers to electronic engineers, Enriquez said.
For example, current technology enables a chemist to examine 700 molecular compounds in the same time it once took to review 50 compounds, he said. The firms that know how to manage this breakthrough technology will be successful in the future, he said. The changing pharma business model also could attract some unlikely competitors, including software and computer giants like Microsoft and IBM, Enriquez noted.
Advances in scientific knowledge, including further understanding of the human genome, will also greatly affect drug development. The FDA and industry already are preparing for the day of "personalized" drugs, which are tailored to patients with specific genetic make-ups. The market potential in this area is so large that drugmakers could release new niche products on a weekly basis, Enriquez said.