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Alexander Mullen

Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Fitabeo Therapeutics

Mullen is a Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Strathclyde and a GPhC UK registered pharmacist with 30 years of experience in clinical practice, including direct patient care. At Fitabeo Therapeutics, he is responsible for the design and development of an extensive portfolio of pharmaceutical products ranging from tablets and capsules, to vesicular drug delivery technologies, vaccines, pulmonary delivery systems, drug-eluting stents, and vaginal delivery systems. His academic activities have resulted in more than50 papers, five patents, and four book chapters.

We asked…

What are your biggest fears for the future of the industry?

Global population aging is a reality. 7.5 billion people worldwide require access to healthcare. Of these, around 12.3 percent (901 million) were 60 or older in 2015. By 2050, this will have increased to 21.3 percent (2.1 billion) from 16.4 percent (1.4 billion) in 2030. In parallel, from $1,129 in 2019 to $1,515 in 2050, the average global health expenditure per person will increase by 34 percent. Costs of caring for the elderly will rise by $1.6 trillion. Therefore, there is a concern that this could become a crisis if not handled carefully. The combined increase in age and healthcare costs will pressure medico-social care. The industry must deliver effective, safe, affordable medicines that society can use to provide decentralized care and healthy aging.   

Much of the cost and treatment burden will be driven by the rise in age- and lifestyle-related diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases such as diabetes, and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's. The pharmaceutical industry must be innovative and adopt technologies that will speed up and improve drug discovery and development processes, and integrate the patient more centrally into this process to ensure medication adherence and outcomes are maximized to reduce the treatment costs of emerging therapies.

The pharmaceutical industry continues to grapple with the supply chain due to the pressures of globalization, climate change, and an aging world population. In recent times, supply chain disruption has led to noticeable drug shortages and a negative impact on healthcare. Such problems will persist unless more is done to strengthen the supply chain’s resilience. Companies, regulators, healthcare payers, and patients must collaborate better if future healthcare needs are to be met. Failure will have catastrophic consequences for both industry and society. Future healthcare will be built on better diagnostics, allowing for earlier diagnosis, greater individualization of therapy, and the chance to improve patient outcomes and reduce iatrogenic disease.

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