The biopharma industry is growing all the time, and this year will see major trends within the sector. Hays’ Paul Strouts takes a closer look.
The healthcare industry is advancing at a rapid pace, with pundits such as Forbes tipping it as “an increasingly interesting space for investors”. This has to be good news for candidates entering the life sciences job market or looking to change their work environment.
Here are some of the high-level trends we see coming into play, which will inevitably impact on STEM hires.
In many ways, there are no surprises, with persistent themes such as rising costs, increasing globalisation, advancing technological innovation and data sovereignty making their way on to the list, even more forcibly than in previous years.
1. ‘Pharmerging’ markets
The increasing spending power and general ‘westernisation’ of emerging markets, such as China, Russia and Middle Eastern nations, make them obvious targets for the pharmaceutical industry.
These markets are themselves turning towards the health issues that affect their populations, with programmes such as Healthy China 2020 having a substantial impact on medical device firms, drug manufacturers, hospital operators and the wider healthcare community.
This trend bodes well for candidates seeking global opportunities, especially those with international experience and language skills.
2. Rising healthcare costs
With healthcare costs heading resolutely ‘north’, there is increasing pressure from governments to provide evidence of the positive health outcomes associated with biopharma industry products.
This cost dimension will exert an impact on the supply chain across the board, and ultimately drive more innovation.
It also puts pressure on clinical researchers, quantitative analysts and bioinformaticians, as well as marketers, sales representatives and patient engagement specialists, to ensure cost benefit is not only procured, but effectively communicated.
Understanding this context will help job hopefuls to tailor their personal brand for many roles within the industry.
3. Speciality pharma the new normal
The pharmaceutical business model has typically focused on health conditions that affect large populations, at the expense of disease states that affect fewer people.
This is now changing, as the relative lack of existing treatments in these niche areas makes them fair game for manufacturers, who are lured by the benefits of less competition and higher margins.
Candidates aiming for employment in companies with treatments in the pipeline for these so-called ‘orphan diseases’ should not be disappointed.
4. More mergers and acquisitions
With billions of dollars worth of patents for blockbuster drugs set to expire in the next few years, pharmaceutical companies are highly motivated to find ways to protect their bottom line.
Expect to see growth though the purchase of smaller companies, and the same will be true of contract research organisations, which now demonstrate a fast-growing trend of consolidation within the industry.
Many merger partners will seek to throw in their lot with entities that can bolster their data technology capabilities. Mergers and acquisitions are always attended by job disruption and new opportunities, so this is an area worth watching.
5. Technology on steroids
One of the most powerful trends of the last few years – and showing no sign of slowing – is the blending of healthcare with technology.
Radical developments in gene editing and molecular engineering have paved the way for expanded investment in genetics and genomics, so expect to see job growth in this area.
With tech giants such as Google, Apple, IBM and Samsung all investing in the development of artificial intelligence to diagnose and treat disease, the implications for jobs in digital health and every aspect of healthcare provision cannot be underestimated.
By Paul Strouts
Paul Strouts is the global managing director for Hays Life Sciences. Strouts looks after 27 countries within the group’s portfolio, spanning from New York in the US to Sydney in Australia.
A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.