Sep 29, 2011

Drug Discoveries

4 min
Top 10 Drug Discoveries
1 - Penicillin When Alexander Fleming stumbled upon penicillin in the 1930s it was one of the biggest discoveries in the...

1 - Penicillin

When Alexander Fleming stumbled upon penicillin in the 1930s it was one of the biggest discoveries in the healthcare industry and at the time it was dubbed a ‘miracle drug.’ An antibiotic mould which could fight bacterial infections, penicillin is considered to be one of the most powerful antibiotics available and as soon as it reached the mass market it was saving lives.

Previous to its discovery, deaths were caused from a simple graze or sore throat as doctors had no way to treat the infections. Penicillin meant that infections were no longer fatal and Flemming, along with Howard Florey and Ernst Chain who took penicillin to market, were awarded a Nobel Prize in 1945. 

It proved to be the starting point for a range of antibiotics and today remains as one of the most widely used.

2 - Lipitor

A product of global pharmaceutical company Pfizer, cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor is the best selling treatment in the world. It is currently at the centre of fairly intense media coverage, as Pfizer will lose its exclusive patent rights to the drug in May 2012, seeing it face competition from drug makers who will be able to produce cheaper, unbranded versions of Lipitor.

3 - Anesthetics

A key medical advance for surgical operations, when a number of doctors discovered it was possible to create a reversible loss of sensation surgeons were able to operate without patients feeling any pain. This allowed for more intricate procedures to take place and saved lives as previous to the discovery, many people chose death over the pain of surgery.

4 - Oral contraceptives

A massively popular drug discovery, it is estimated over 100 million women worldwide take oral contraceptive pills. It is one of the first drugs to be taken for an extensive period of time by ‘healthy’ people. This then paved the way for the development of drugs that prevented conditions rather than treating them; drugs such as cholesterol lowers.

5 - Insulin

Before the development of insulin, diabetes was a feared illness and diagnosis came with a warning of almost certain death. The 1920’s discovery of the insulin hormone enabled diabetes sufferers to live relatively normal lives by balancing blood sugar levels. Dr Frederick Banting and Professor John Macleod were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for their discovery and Banting was also awarded a knighthood.

6 - Prozac

After being introduced to the US healthcare sector in 1988 it only took two years for Prozac to achieve its ‘most widely prescribed anti-depressant’ status, an accolade it still retains today. It was also one of the first selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor anti-depressants and by 1999 25 percent of Eli Lilly’s revenue, the manufacturer of Prozac, was coming from the drug’s sales.

7 - Viagra

Another product courtesy of Pfizer, the matter of who exactly invented Viagra is cloudy, with the company saying “hundreds” of people were involved in making the popular aphrodisiac. In 2000 Viagra accounted for over 90 percent of erectile dysfunction treatments, but this has since dropped dramatically after reports of adverse side effects such as deafness and blindness.

8 - Aspirin

Aspirin was patented in 1990, after a Bayer employee rediscovered a French Chemist’s pain relief formula. It was sold as a powder until 1915 when aspirin tablets were manufactured. As well as now being one of the main ingredients in a number of pain relief remedies, it is thought aspirin can prevent heart attacks, certain types of cancer and lower blood pressure.

9 - Morphine

Named after Morpheus the Greek god of dreams for its ability to cause drowsiness, the painkiller Morphine was first sold commercially by Merck in 1827. The use of morphine intensified after the introduction of the hypodermic syringe in the 1850s and today it is estimated approximately 230 tonnes of the drug are used every year.

10 - Botox

Manufactured by Allergan, although Botox has been around for years it is only fairly recently been used on a mass scale. Botox was first approved by the FDA in 1989 initially to treat muscle spasms in the eye. It has gone on to gain popularity across the world as a cosmetic surgery able to banish wrinkles as well as treating medical conditions such as extreme sweating.

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Dec 10, 2018

Top 10 healthcare innovations for 2019

medical devices
Top 10
Catherine Sturman
6 min
healthcare innovations
We take a look at some of the top 10 healthcare innovations which are transforming the sector

We take a look at some of the top 10 healthcare innovations which are transforming the sector

10. Telehealth

The telehealth market is booming. Consumers are leading increasingly busy lifestyles, with up to 60% favouring digitally-led services. Providing clinical care at a distance, increasing accessibility and eradicating potential delays has given patients greater control, boosting patient satisfaction and overall engagement. Such is its exponential growth, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the US has recently released its proposed Physician Fee Schedule and Qualified Payment Programme updates for 2019, where telehealth services has been heavily featured, in order to deliver ‘different access points’ for patients.  

9. Mobile technology

Consumers have become accustomed to accessing their data through the use of various digital tools, where the use of mobile and tablet health apps has tripled from 13% in 2014 to 48% today. Catering to this growing market, British based start-up Babylon Health is making waves on a global scale. Partnering with the National Health Service (NHS) and private health provider, Bupa, it has also cemented its presence across the flourishing Chinese market, with a membership base exceeding 1.4mn citizens across Europe, Asia and Africa. By partnering with global juggernaut Tencent, Babylon’s artificial intelligence system has enabled both parties to interact directly with users, identify specific illnesses, deliver health status assessments, and triage necessary actions. The mobile app is available to over a billion users and linked to more than 38,000 medical facilities in China alone.

8. Artificial intelligence 

Artificial intelligence (AI) applications, such as predictive analytics for patient monitoring has provided significant financial savings. Applications that target hospitals and medical institutions include patient monitoring and transcribing notes for electronic health records (EHRs). The European Union is set to invest $24bn into artificial intelligence (AI) by 2020 in a bid to catch up with Asia and the US, who have invested heavily in AI and cloud services. This year, Google revealed its plans to harness AI and machine learning across a multitude of consumer technologies, particularly in healthcare. “If AI can shape healthcare, it has to work through the regulations of healthcare. In fact, I see that as one of the biggest areas where the benefits will play out for the next 10-20 years,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai has previously stated.

7. Blockchain

Blockchain is estimated to reach over $5.61bn by the end of 2025, even though it remains dependent on the ability to record and store information conveniently, economically and securely amongst different applications and systems. Providing transparency and eliminating third-party intermediaries, processes are streamlined, reducing healthcare costs exponentially. Unlocking the ability for providers to deliver a value-based healthcare system and enhance patient engagement, blockchain could save the industry up to $100-$150bn per year by 2025 in data breach-related costs, IT costs, operations costs, support function costs and personnel costs, according to BIS Research. Partnering with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Ethereum blockchain-based supply chain platform, Viant sought to accelerate the pace of blockchain-based supply chain systems. Accenture and supply chain giant DHL have also developed a blockchain-based serialisation prototype which tracks pharmaceuticals from the point of origin to the consumer.

6. Health wearables

With the rise of lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, more consumers are turning to health wearables that monitor glucose, heart rate, physical activity and sleep to gain a greater understanding of their health conditions. Following on from the release of the first Bluetooth headset back in 2000, the growing interest in wearables has seen monitoring our health and data become standardised. This data can be analysed by sophisticated algorithms to drive long-term diagnosis and support. Partnering with Google, health wearables company Fitbit is exploring the development of consumer and enterprise health solutions. Its acquisition of HIPAA-compliant health platform, Twine Health has seen the business enhance its clinical services by bringing on board a coaching platform, empowering people to seek better health outcomes.

See also

5. Electronic health records tools

From 2018-2022, the electronic health records (EHR) market is expected to grow at a compound average rate of 6% per year Providers and organisations continue to house fragmented technologies which create barriers towards collaboration and data sharing opportunities. This is further exacerbated if a patient straddles both public and private healthcare. Technology giant Apple has integrated patients’ medical records into its Health App as part of its iOS 11.3 beta. The data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode. Partnering with hospital providers and clinics, patients are now able to view their medical records from multiple providers within one platform. Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, Penn Medicine, UC San Diego Health and even the Cleveland Clinic have implemented this technology.

4. Healthcare transportation 

Non-emergency health transportation remains a key issue worldwide, preventing patients from getting to or from a doctor’s appointment. 25% of lower-income patients have missed or rescheduled appointments due to lack of transportation, costing US health systems up to $150bn each year. Transportation companies such as Lyft and Uber have therefore entered the market by partnering with state governments to reduce these costs and deliver personalised patient care.

3. 3D Printing 

Healthcare providers are set to represent the second largest industry sector in 3D manufacturing. The Food & Drug Administration’s decision to release its first comprehensive framework advising manufacturers of 3D medical products highlights its growing impact where more than 100,000 knee replacement surgeries are completed each year using 3D-printed, patient-matched surgical guides, for example. Through this process, surfaces and structures can be optimised for strength, weight and material use. Consultation between surgeons and patients has also been bolstered, where patients can better understand the complexity of his or her specific needs.

2. Genomics

As consumers get more involved in the management of their health, consumer genetics and research companies have grown in popularity and scale. People want to further understand their genetic makeup, leading personal genomics and biotech company 23andMe to become one of the largest consumer-based organisations worldwide. Interestingly, this year, the company has entered a four-year collaboration with GSK to develop new treatments, but using human genetics as the basis for discovery.

Not only looking to develop treatments by analysing human genetics, pharmaceutical companies are looking to even remove hereditary genes which pass diseases down generations. In 2017, human embryos were successfully ‘edited’ through gene editing tool, CRISPR (Clustered, Regularly Interspaced, Short Palindromic Repeats), eradicating hypertrophic cardiomyopathy within 42 embryos.

1. Vertical integrations

As healthcare providers aim to provide greater transparency, promote collaboration and lower escalating patient costs, 2018 has been the year for a significant number of vertical integrations. CVS Health’s $68mn takeover of health insurer Aetna is a case in point. By influencing more of the supply chain, it will gain significant negotiating power to reduce costs for payers and patients, develop personalised solutions and improve overall outcomes. It will also promote the eradication of delays in process by removing any third parties within traditional business models. Other notable integrations are Optum’s acquisition of the DaVita Medical GroupHumana and Kindred Healthcare and Cigna and Express Scripts.

Reports have indicated that not only has the number of healthcare deals more than doubled in the last five years, the size of deals has also grown as a result of repeat investor interest, highlighting that this trend is here to stay.

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