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Five Major Challenges for the Biopharmaceutical Industry Revealed

The Global Biopharma Resilience Index compiled by Cytiva and Longitude measures the ability of the biopharmaceutical industry to respond to global needs in five key areas.

Cytiva, along with the Financial Times’ research arm Longitude, have compiled a global index from a survey of 1,165 biopharma executives and healthcare policymakers across 20 countries. The index ranked the ability of the biopharma industry to respond to five major challenges; in supply chain, talent, research and development, manufacturing, and government policy and regulation.

Respondents answered questions on a scale of 1 to 10 in each of the five areas. The average of all responses resulted in the rating of each country’s biopharma capabilities as well as the strength of the global industry. With an overall index score of 6.6 out of 10, the industry looks vulnerable – and has scope to improve across a few critical areas. In the overall index, the United States ranks first, with a 7.12 score. Switzerland and the UK follow closely.

Russia, China and India are leading in the lower-middle income and upper-middle-income economy countries, despite having large populations and lower GNI per capita than some of the other countries in this group. However, the index also highlights a clear divide between high-income vs upper-middle-income and lower-middle-income economies. The upper-middle-income and lower-middle-income economies tend to score lower on the index: this indicates that they have less resilient biopharma industries, which creates a significant risk in terms of global access to vital medications.

Emmanuel Ligner, President and CEO, Cytiva, said, “As a partner to global biopharma companies, we wanted to offer this overview of where the industry is performing well, and where there are some pain points. The data is built by listening to customers and key players and gives us insight into major concerns. With this data, we’ll have even more fruitful conversations and be better prepared to work with customers and stakeholders to address industry-wide challenges.”

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder and chairperson of Biocon, said, “Biopharma has a huge role to play in the future of medicine, and many of the medicines that we are developing now will be game-changing. But developing blockbuster drugs shouldn’t be about making a billion dollars – it should be about serving a billion patients. That’s when we will have global equity in healthcare.”

In the five areas, the index revealed key concerns. In supply chain resilience, 47 percent of executives say that their country is moderately or highly dependent on the import of drugs. Shortages tend to be more common in countries with a lower GNI per capita, and COVID-19 has exacerbated existing issues around drug insecurity.

Sourcing talent is a major challenge – compounded by rising costs and inflexible labour regulations. More than half of executives say that the cost of digital, manufacturing and R&D talent have increased in their country in recent years.

Nearly half of executives believe that both traditional pharma and biopharma firms have a widespread culture of cooperation and open innovation with other sectors (44% for each); however, this drops significantly when looking from the perspective of academic institutions (32%) and government think tanks (27%), among others. This suggests that some areas of the industry lack a culture of open innovation.

Domestic pharma firms are not ready to fully meet the needs of their own populations. If required, on average countries would be able to fulfil about 75 percent of the domestic need for insulin and vaccines, but this drops to about 58 percent for biologics.

Governments are pursuing policies that support domestic pharma manufacturing, but they must go further to improve funding for start-ups and intellectual property rights. [APBN]