5 trends shaping pharmaceuticals and life sciences

The pharmaceuticals and life sciences industry continues to undergo massive change. The consumerization of healthcare, increased competition to the United States’ supremacy, skills shortages and digital disruption are all having an impact.

All of which has left senior decision makers pondering how they can react to these shifts and the demands they’re putting on their talent pipelines.

With that in mind we’ve picked out five trends shaping the sector:

  • The drive to patient orientated healthcare
  • Increased competition from overseas
  • The need for more STEM talent
  • The rise of AI in pharma
  • The advent of Big Data


Patients hold all the power

The so-called consumerization of healthcare is in full effect. Patients have more choice than ever before with new technologies such as smart phones and wearable devices feeding back real-time information.

This increase in the availability of information in the age of the Internet of Things (IoT) has led to a shift where patients hold all the power.

Drug companies are having to work smarter to meet these new demands and win customers. Which means having the right digital marketing skills onboard is key.

The States’ position is under threat

The United States has been the long-standing world-leader in the pharmaceutical and life sciences sector.

However, this position is coming under threat.

In 2016, China had 4.7 million recent STEM graduates. By comparison the US had just 568.000.  

As well as China, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom are all acting to bolster their STEM workforce through internships and policy decision-making designed to spark interest and growth in the industry.

Where’s the STEM talent coming from?

Pharma employs four times the number of STEM workers compared to the overall US economy.

Quite simply, such a research-intensive industry is in desperate need of STEM talent.

However, according to various trade research studies, 60% of the US’s pharmaceutical industry jobs could be vacant by 2025.

To redress the balance, it’s imperative for the industry to attract and retain the skills it needs to thrive.

The rise of Artificial Intelligence

Digital disruption is affecting all areas of the industry with Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the forefront of change.

AI algorithms and machine learning are re-imagining the way we diagnose and treat patients.

These developments are also having a significant impact on R&D timelines.

Businesses that have these skills will be able to accelerate drug discovery and development, as well as find innovative new ways to personalize treatment.

Examples include Johnson and Johnson’s Patient Athlete program to improve orthopedic care through the use of real-time data collection.

The advent of Big Data

Pharmaceutical companies have access to a huge volume of increasingly complex data. However, the challenge remains how they leverage this influx of information.

Big Data projects are resource intensive and to gain business critical insights you need to employ the smart minds capable of effectively interpreting this data.

Back in 2013, The McKinsey Global Institute estimated that using Big Data to inform decision making could generate up to $100bn in value annually across the US healthcare system.

Advances in Big Data are certainly generating new opportunities. However, challenges remain around resourcing and capability development.

Are you looking to attract pharmaceutical talent? Give me a call on +1 786 8704240 or email liam.murray@bps-world.com to find out how we can help.

Topics: US, pharmaceutical


Liam Murray

Liam Murray
Liam Murray is President of BPS World Inc.
Written on: September 6, 2018


The US pharmaceutical and life sciences industry is being impacted by a number of trends. What effect are these having and what skills are required to adapt to change?

In this blog we examine:

  • The impact of consumerized healthcare
  • A lack of STEM talent
  • How technology is shaping the sector


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