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Business & Regulation Trends & Forecasts, Business Practice

The Pharma Playground

As we move into the New Year, there is a great deal for the pharma industry to be excited about. Cell therapies are proving their worth and, buoyed by success, more and more companies are beginning to pile resources into the area. Gene therapies, too, continue to impress. Artificial intelligence, cloud computing, blockchain technology, on-demand manufacturing, and more are all marching defiantly into play. Doesn’t it feel like we’re surfing the crest of an innovation wave?

But there are also major challenges. Pricing and access to medicine aside, there is the more fundamental issue of the general public not respecting science or advances in medicine. Unbelievably, measles cases are at their highest in 20 years in Europe because of the anti-vaccine movement (1). The year 2018 saw over 70 deaths related to measles – double the number of 2017. Given that measles vaccination is proven to be both safe and effective, what a waste of healthcare resources – and lives – these figures represent.

Scientists in Germany say that a distrust of “power” can influence someone’s choice of medical therapy (2). And a fair chunk of patients opt for homeopathic and naturopathic medications – the researchers found that almost 26 percent of Europeans employed complementary or alternative medical remedies at least once in a particular 12-month period. How ironic that (unhealthy) skepticism exists when it comes to proven vaccines, but can be totally absent for remedies utterly unproven by science.

Scientists themselves also sometimes help to muddy the water, when it comes to trust. At a conference organized by the Indian Scientific Congress Association, researchers decided to combine religious views and science; among other controversial presentations (which the organizers have since distanced themselves from), G. Nageshwar Rao, Vice Chancellor of Andhra University, claimed that ancient Hindus invented stem cell research and test-tube baby technology, citing Gandhari’s 100 sons as proof (3).

Public perception, changing attitudes, repercussions of Brexit, political changes in the US, arguments about the value of drugs – they will all continue to rock the world of pharma. In some cases, there is little we can do but “ride” it out. But what we can do is acknowledge and confront genuine issues, while remembering to share success stories whenever we can. And that continues to be the goal of The Medicine Maker for 2019.

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  1. The Guardian, “Measles cases at highest for 20 years in Europe, as anti-vaccine movement grows,” (2018). Available at Last accessed January 8, 2019.
  2. EurekaAlert, “Distrust of power influences choice of medical procedures,” (2018). Available at Last accessed January 8, 2019.
  3. India Today, “Kauravas were test tube babies, Ravana had several airports in Lanka: Andhra University VC,” (2018). Available at Last accessed January 8, 2019.
About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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