Breaking Barriers to Advance Life Sciences

The European life sciences industry is more impatient for change since the pandemic. We must seize the opportunity.

After more than two years apart, the European life sciences industry came together again in Zurich last month. As well as an energizing reunion, it was a chance to reflect on the breathtaking pace of change triggered by the pandemic.

Some of our customers redefined the art of the possible under significant pressure to achieve spectacular breakthroughs. Roche Diagnostics, for example, successfully launched the first commercially available PCR test for COVID-19 just weeks after the genetic sequencing of the virus was released and subsequently rolled out more than a dozen products in 18 months.

Customers across the region are now working hard to embed new ways of working into their organizations. Delivering more value at a lower cost is a worthwhile aspiration that will address the trend of declining productivity in pharmaceutical innovation. Pharma companies that can routinely execute faster, cheaper clinical studies will succeed – and improve patients’ lives.

We must also acknowledge the barriers and realize that today’s optimism coexists with palpable impatience. Fragmented data, inefficient processes, and the heavy resourcing demands of manual tasks hold back the life sciences industry just as it needs to make even greater advances. Companies are right to feel frustrated with the silo-driven approach to R&D and quality. Here are a few ways our customers are using technology to ensure a decisive break from the past.

Joining the dots on people, processes, and data

Without a doubt, the benchmark of ambition has changed in R&D and quality since the pandemic. In order to fulfill their growth aspirations, pharma companies now realize they need to transform their organizational capacity to access and use data. Data-driven intelligence is a powerful competitive advantage for brands and can change the positioning of the unit capable of serving insights to the rest of the organization.

At LEO Pharma, Vice President for Global Safety Pilar Carrero shares that her team is transforming its approach to pharmacovigilance: from a mission of pure compliance to safety intelligence. To achieve this, LEO Pharma is building a robust information architecture to pull in data from diverse functions, including research, clinical, and regulatory. In future, having a single source of truth could facilitate predictive analysis and minimize risks during late-phase trials.

Great strides are being made in quality as pharma companies eliminate inefficient processes. For instance, after realizing that its employees were being trained on more than 70 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on average, Novo Nordisk now focuses on process simplification and standardization. Poul Henning Poulsen (corporate vice president for strategic quality development and operations) described why an agile quality management system is critical to managing risk as the organization moves into new therapy areas, like stem cell therapy.

Achieving enduring change requires new ways of working. As Michel Rider and Leonie Christianson of GSK explained, improving patient- and site-centricity goes hand in hand with creating an internal test-and-learn culture. The company has successfully eliminated millions of pounds in cost and accelerated its pipeline by a year–in part, by replacing 20 distinct applications with one scalable platform, where the majority of work can be completed.

Over the last 18 months, GSK has also implemented a new approach to clinical data management with select early adopter partners. Spearheading transformation at this scale and speed simply is not possible with a traditional mindset that seeks to avoid failure at all costs.

Finally, achieving scale is especially important for regulatory submissions, as organizations prepare for IDMP roll-out and compliance with other new regulations. Lorna Bruce, head of regulatory systems and processes at GSK, details how the company is seeking to reduce the number of legacy systems by 70% to simplify work and improve user satisfaction.

If it ain’t broke, still fix it

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed an extraordinary capacity for innovation in our industry, and we must urgently capitalize on the energy and impatience for change. By facilitating connectivity across functions, we can create seamless interactions between people and data. Unwinding inefficient processes could free up cost savings for investment in research and development.

As Steve Guise, CIO at Roche Pharma, pointed out in his keynote address, a methodical approach to innovation doesn’t have to be slow. However, organizational agility is a prerequisite and must be embedded in processes and culture if there is to be a foundation for lasting change.

Technology can join the dots between people and data while eliminating inefficiency. The impact is both human and tangible, as more people gain access to the right clinical studies and the industry accelerates the delivery of new medicines to the wider patient population.

If you weren’t able to join us in Zurich, be sure to catch key on-demand sessions to learn how Veeva is advancing innovation in life sciences.

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