Recent years have seen considerable developments in the delivery of injectable medications. Modern patients, demanding drug therapies that are both effective and convenient to take, are increasingly eschewing hospitals and infusion centers in favor of medications that can be self-administered at home. Consequently, the medical device and pharmaceutical industries have invested significant efforts to address these challenges and demands, paving the way for major advances in the wearable drug-delivery industry. The growth of this industry is offering new opportunities with patient-centric solutions that allow for easy self-administration, which will continue to develop in the coming year. Here are four key trends to watch for in 2020:
1. More Injectables: More Devices
While 2019 saw significantly more oral medications enter the market in comparison with injectable drugs, an examination of the development pipelines for pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies reveals increasing numbers in favor of injections, a trend expected to continue into 2020. Of injectable medications, biologics specifically are playing an increasingly central role in modern medicine, offering treatments for a range of serious and chronic illnesses. With more than 1,400 new biological drugs currently in development, a number that is increasing year-on-year, the market is expected to grow to an unprecedented $285 billion by 2023 (up from just $84 billion in 2017).
Unlike oral medications, all injectables require a drug-delivery device for administration— whether an infusion pump, syringe, auto-injector, or on-body injector. Large-molecule biologics, generally comprising larger volumes and higher viscosities than small-molecule injectables, have their own set of requirements. The past decade has seen more than 200 approvals of prefilled syringes and auto-injectors. We can expect to see new large-volume administration devices accompanying the launch of new injectable medications, such as infusion pumps and on-body injectors, entering the market in 2020 and onward.
2. Blockbuster Patent Cliff: Competition Increases
Small-molecule injectables encountered a patent cliff some years ago, heralding an era of generic competition. Similarly, blockbuster biologics are now facing their own threats with more than $67 billion in patents due to expire by 2020. Biosimilar manufacturers are therefore expected to launch new products, in a bid to encroach on the market share that today’s leaders in blockbuster drugs have enjoyed thus far. The latter will face a challenge fending off the competition and have to go to lengths to distinguish themselves from a growing number of biosimilar competitors.
This increased competition is expected to result in drug manufacturers placing greater emphasis on ‘around the molecule’ offerings, namely through devices and data. While the blockbuster drug itself will remain unchanged, pharmaceutical companies will use lifecycle management strategies for market differentiation with patient-friendly devices, in addition to perhaps a smartphone application for the patient or a desktop version for healthcare providers. Thus, 2020 will be a year of growth, competition, and improved access to key therapies.
3. Patient Engagement and Personalization
The move from hospital care to home care is a trend that will continue throughout 2020 and beyond. This will require patients to take greater control over their own treatment and they will, in turn, expect feedback and support as they take upon themselves responsibilities that were traditionally performed by physicians and nurses.
Personalization will therefore be a major driver of change, as more providers seek to move away from hospital-centric care to patient-centric support and meeting patients’ expectations. Central to this will be enabling patients through education and empowerment by giving them the opportunity to use different digital tools that will engage them with their health without restricting their daily lives. Consequentially, providers will place greater focus on developing solutions that address patients’ specific needs and are simple to use in order to encourage adherence to treatment routines in the coming year.
Thus, in 2020, we will see the introduction of tailored offerings as healthcare providers take the steps necessary to support patients managing their own health.
4. An Increase in Data
For pharmaceutical companies, qualified data deriving from consumer engagement will be invaluable from a reimbursement perspective, as they are required to demonstrate medication usage, while also providing insights to aid in customer retention. Similarly, data and connectivity will be essential in ensuring treatment adherence by enabling providers to monitor patient activity and provide timely feedback and intervention.
Additionally, the number of patients tracking their own health through wearables has more than doubled since 2013 and will continue to increase. This patient-generated data, combined with the vast amounts of data already acquired by hospitals and health systems, will result in an abundance of information and specific challenges. Healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies, having to collate and translate vast amounts of unstructured data to provide specific patient insights, will now have to take steps to mitigate their risk of liability if failure to extract the appropriate information leads to adverse patient outcomes.
Consequently, 2020 will be the year of differentiation and collaboration for the drug-delivery industry. The increase of biologics will expose the need for more suitable delivery methods, and patient centricity will take an increasingly pivotal role, with pharmaceutical companies working with developers and providers to introduce new delivery systems and services to increase patient empowerment.