Recession forcing strategic changes in pharma industry
Major pharmaceutical companies are being forced to change tact in order to prosper in a continuingly strained industry, finds a report by business intelligence specialists GBI Research.
The new report states that as the global economic crisis rolls on, swingeing cuts made in R&D and manufacturing by the pharmaceutical industry’s big players is affecting the way the sector looks at future development.
While these companies are addressing the issue of workforce reduction in different ways, a number of common tactics have emerged, including a greater focus on emerging markets, the outsourcing of activities regarding drug discovery and the building of closer links with academic institutions.
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Firms are supporting this new emphasis on external productivity by setting up incubators on company premises to support emerging new companies and supporting life science research through the development of innovation funds and venture capital groups.
The financial decline that followed the huge expansion enjoyed by global pharmaceutical companies in the 1990s and early 2000s has resulted in significantly weakened R&D budgets and numerous site closures.
Since 2009, the US has seen the closure of 18 R&D locations and the EU has seen the shutdown of 14.
Notably, the UK has been particularly hard-hit with the closure of six sites, representing 19 percent of the worldwide total.
According to limited information attained from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing Association’s (PhRMA) 2008 and 2009 Annual Membership Surveys, personnel cuts have hit all areas of R&D, with the exception of Phase II research.
The results shows that as these major pharmaceutical powers are forced to slice large chunks from a vital area, resources are being focussed on improving the information available at the proof-of-concept stage while allowing less promising.
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NHS trials test that predicts sepsis 3 days in advance
A new test that can predict sepsis before the patient develops symptoms is being trialled at a National Health Service (NHS) hospital in the south of England.
Clinicians at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital are leading medical trials of the blood test, which they hope will help them save thousands of lives a year.
The test is being developed by government spin-out company Presymptom Health, but the research began over 10 years ago at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). This included a study of 4,385 patients and more than 70,000 samples, the largest study of its kind at the time.
From the samples taken, a clinical biobank and database were generated and then mined using machine learning to identify biomarker signatures that could predict the onset of sepsis. The researchers found they were able to provide an early warning of sepsis up to three days ahead of illness with an accuracy of up to 90%.
Unlike most other tests, Presymptom Health identifies the patient’s response to the disease as opposed to detecting the pathogen. This is an important differentiator, as sepsis occurs as a result of the patient's immune system’s overreaction to an infection or injury, which can then cause life-threatening organ dysfunction.
Worldwide, an estimated 49 million people a year contract sepsis, while in the UK almost two million patients admitted to hospital each year are thought to be at risk of developing the condition. If Presymptom's test is effective, it could save billions of pounds globally and improve clinical outcomes for millions of sepsis patients.
The initial trials at Queen Alexandra Hospital will last 12 months, with two other sites planned to go live this summer. Up to 600 patients admitted to hospital with respiratory tract infections will be given the option to participate in the trial. The data collected will be independently assessed and used to refine and validate the test, which could be available for broader NHS use within two years.
If successful, this test could also identify sepsis arising from other infections before symptoms appear, which could potentially include future waves of COVID-19 and other pandemics.
Dr Roman Lukaszewski, the lead Dstl scientist behind the innovation, said: “It is incredible to see this test, which we had originally begun to develop to help service personnel survive injury and infection on the front line, is now being used for the wider UK population, including those fighting COVID-19.”