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Trend 21 April Apr 2021 0954 21 April 2021

The future of Pharma: people-centred technological innovation

Pharma's exponential growth in recent years entailed a surge in new jobs and an unprecedented acceleration of digitalisation. Raffaella Maderna of Lundbeck Italy gives us the lowdown on what's going on.

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The health emergency sparked not only substantial growth in Pharma, but also an astonishing digital expansion. No longer a matter of years, the marching orders call for few weeks, if not days: This is the forced pace of change that the pandemic has set for Pharma, Biotech and, more broadly, the Life Science sector to adopt digital tools and technologies. Yet this transcends digital transformation, entailing a much more complex and profound change concerning relationships and communication. In a nutshell, it's all about people.

These amazing developments and their consequences were discussed at the January 25th PHYD talk on "The 5 Healthcare Professions of the Future" with Raffaella Maderna, People & Communications Director at Lundbeck Italia, a Danish pharmaceutical company specialising in central nervous system therapeutics, with a particular focus on diseases such as schizophrenia, depression, migraine, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Delving into the Pharma world and its whys, Raffaella expounded on the growth rates of recent years, professional opportunities, future trends and the most sought-after soft skills, while also exploring the shape it may assume tomorrow.

The Life Science sector in Italy boasted a 2020 turnover of USD 32 billion, 80% from exports, and a workforce of 67,000.

Maderna first sets her focus on the turnover of the pharmaceutical market in Italy, which has grown exponentially in just a decade. In fact, it surged by 117% between 2008 and 2018. And that's not all. Life Science in Italy boasted a 2020 turnover of USD 32 billion, 80% from exports, and a workforce of 67,000. Moody's recently reported that it expects the EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation & Amortisation) to settle in between 4% and 6% this year.

We can fully grasp the significance of these figures by interpreting them in the context of two essential market elements: the sector's hyper-innovation and pervasive use of technology. Aspects wholly intrinsic to the DNA of the pharmaceutical industry, which draws from research and discovery as its ontological rationale, and which has always relied on high-precision technology equipment to achieve a high degree of performance. We need only mention the production sites of major pharmaceutical companies, which now stand as genuine benchmarks for robotics, the use of big data and artificial intelligence in predictive medicine, and even wearable technologies as the ideal vehicle for personalised drug delivery. Not forgetting apps for managing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, which require a particularly close engagement between patients and their caregivers.

Though digital transformation begins with data, its ultimate destination is inevitably people

A tech world, no doubt, yet it is also worth emphasising that it is also profoundly human by its very nature. "Though digital transformation begins with data, its ultimate destination is inevitably people", says Maderna, who believes that every company in the sector must adopt a beyond-the-pill approach, not merely producing or distributing drugs, but cultivating a trust-based relationship with patients and other valuable stakeholders, such as the various patient associations, communities and local health management systems. Data indeed matter, but only to help companies engage openly and transparently with people through dialogue about their expectations for care or quality of life.

Pharma is an open world, where new professions, new technologies and new ways of working are emerging every day. It is a world where digitalisation imposes a tireless process of renewing the workforce through upskilling and reskilling, where indispensable scientific skills merge and integrate with the equally indispensable humanities, where creativity and diligence coexist at their best. Innovation cannot exist without ethics, and meeting patient expectations requires courage, passion and ambition.

Raffaella Maderna presents us with a scenario in which people care will be the very core of tomorrow's economy as much as the structure of any company. Happiness, health and well-being will no longer be just desires; in the new normality they will be indispensable conditions. Which is why it is worth looking closely at what is happening in the pharmaceutical sector today, in Italy and worldwide.

You can listen to the full talk and learn about all the trends in the industry by simply registering on the PHYD website.

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