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An overview of the global life sciences industry in 2018

10/01/19

Nothing can stop change, and there’s been plenty of it in the life sciences industry over the course of 2018. The past year has seen record growth in the UK life sciences sector, which has been enjoying annual turnovers of over £70bn. Advances in technology are letting people push the boundaries of science further than ever before and paving the way for a revolution in how we look at medicine.

It’s an exciting time to be working in life sciences, but what’s happened in the past year- and what’s ahead? We look at some of the biggest trends that have impacted the market, and what that might mean for 2019.

Personalising medicine

One of the biggest impacts of AI in the life sciences market has been the rise of ‘personalised’ medicine. With AI now being used to analyse huge amounts of data in a few seconds, and smart medical devices and apps capable of monitoring glucose, fitness levels and even predicting epileptic fits, medicine has gotten personal over the last year in a way it never has before.

Today, scientists can use the vast amounts of data that they’ve gathered on each patient, combined with deep learning about specific conditions, to come up with a personalised solution for each patient, monitor the results of their treatment, and automatically adjust their prescription if needed. This year has even seen the introduction of ‘smart pills’ like the Proteus pill which contains a tiny sensor that sends an update to a connected mobile device when it has been ingested. With 3D printing even capable of creating personalised medical devices like prosthetics in a fraction of the time it took before machine learning or the IoT was introduced, 2018 is pointing the way to a future where everybody can benefit from instant medical care that’s tailored to them.

Giving more power to CROs

Traditionally seen as somewhat of an offshoot from big pharmaceutical companies, CROs have seen an unprecedented upswing in popularity over the past few years thanks to pharma companies wanting to cut costs and outsource their work. The result? The market for Clinical Research Organisations is set to grow by 12% every year until 2021.

By investing in top-of-the-range technology, and hiring talented young professionals, CROs are making their mark on the industry and are starting to take the lead in conducting R&D and advanced medical trials. The CRO has become a vital part of the drug discovery lifecycle, with a huge chunk of their work focussing on drug discovery. With the rise of orphan drugs and generics- and with pharma still keen to outsource their work- expect CROs to take on an ever-more central role in the development and product of new medical products in the future.

Smarter regulations

2018 saw a great deal of regulatory upheaval in life sciences markets around the world. This year, regulators have been looking at ways to modify their policies to deal with the increasing number of smart and connected devices within the market. With cybersecurity becoming a real problem as the Internet of Things takes off, regulatory bodies across the world have been making a concerted effort to encourage companies to monitor and upgrade older medical devices that are still on the market. Alongside the launch of GDPR across Europe this year, this has created a real push for data security and protection that will continue into the New Year.

Many companies are also taking steps to introduce software which will eventually become ‘self-regulatory’: some organisations are starting to provide regulatory bodies with data on their internal processes and trial results, which can be monitored remotely. In a market that deals with huge amounts of live data, life sciences companies want to speed up the regulatory process, harnessing technology to unify data standards across different companies, increase transparency and use AI to create a system that will automatically upload and securely store data.

Looking to 2019 with Orion Group

Are you prepared for the future? Be a part of it with Orion Group: we recruit people for a wide variety of jobs across life sciences, and we pride ourselves on connecting people with opportunities where they can make change happen.

Get started today by browsing our vacancies, or take a look at the industry in more detail in our blog.

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