The future of the Pharma industry
Biotech prophet, Steven Burrill, recently gave a speech on Biotechnology as the future of Pharma industry. As early as 2020, Burrill believes that we will move away from the ticking time bomb of disease and towards Biotechnical, personal treatment, based on our complex genome.
And it’s not only medical care that Burrill believes biotech will revolutionise; it’s all the world’s complaints: climate change, energy sources, food sustainability... Biotechnology has an answer for everything.
Biotechnology has been used for hundreds of years by botanists, keen to breed the best plants possible. Now, scientists can utilise the power of nature, on a molecular level, to create optimised crops, medical treatments, and biofuels.
With the ability to map entire genomes, it is believed that biotechnology can provide medical care tailored to a patient’s DNA, rather than the blanket prescription handed to those suffering the same disease by doctors.
Burill believes the current system to be almost prehistoric in its execution: “It is “episodic” in that we wait for disease to occur and then wait for doctors (today’s “tribal healers”) to tell us what to do. Too often the advice is wrong and the care doesn’t work. “
In 2000, when the very first draft of the human genome was published, Bill Clinton said: “It is now conceivable that our children’s children will know the term cancer only as a constellation in the stars.”
With technological advancements, genome mapping is already increasing in speed. It is believed that once thousands of genomes are compared, scientists will be able to better understand the genetic reasons for certain diseases, and improve medical care across the board in treatment, diagnostics, and detection.
One visionary view is genome sequencing at birth, so everyone is born to the best health care possible, throughout their life.
Burrill however, believes that the transition to Biotechnological medical treatment will not be a smooth one. With big companies invested in “over-the-counter drugs, generics, emerging market branded generics, biosimilars, licensing, and so forth,” Biotechnology is not receiving the kind of support or funding that it needs to make these leaps in medical research happen. Pharmaceutical contract manufacturing has to take this into account.
“Oceanliners called big companies are trying to move from a vertical orientation to a horizontal one and renting rather than owning everything. If they can’t change fast enough, they’ll become irrelevant.”
Big players such as pharmaceutical companies and doctors will not want to lose the money Biotechnology would take from them. With the heady costs of genome mapping, funding is key. It’s just another example of profiteering coming before people. But Burrill encourages everyone to keep upbeat:
“We were going to have designer drugs overnight. This hasn’t happened, of course. But if you stand back for a minute,” he said, “we’ve moved from a uniformity of disease to understanding the vast variability of patients and moving from an ‘episodic sickness-care’ world to one of pre-emptive and increasingly personalized medicine.”
“This is an extraordinarily opportunistic time,” he said. “You ought to be pumped up about it.”
This post was written on behalf of NU Pharma