Predicting trends and opportunities in 2024

Published: 5-Feb-2024

A significant year in the pharmaceutical industry, 2023 saw pivotal shifts in treatment modalities and a shake-up for development, manufacturing and distribution

As the industry enters 2024, Jeff Livick, Director of Business Development at Sharp Services, explores the trends from the past 12 months and examines how they can be used to predict potential opportunities for the year ahead. 

Key trends in the pharmaceutical industry

Several trends emerged in 2023 that can be used to predict what the pharmaceutical industry will be facing in 2024. Reflecting on the past year and looking to the one ahead, these trends include the following.

Increased pharmaceutical packaging demand: Interest in presterilised and ready-to-use packaging options increased in 2023 and this is set to continue in 2024. Demand is reflective of the clinical sector, in which the use of vials and syringes has increased dramatically and will continue to grow as therapies become more complex. 

Growth in the injectables market: The injectables market has seen impressive growth in recent years. This is a trend that is set to continue, which feeds demand for primary and secondary packaging. Challenges with cell and gene therapies have meant some programme failures despite this growth, highlighting the need for robust injection solutions.

Mergers and acquisitions are on the rise, with a surge expected as several blockbuster drugs are nearing patent expiration in 2024. The closure of internal manufacturing sites by Big Pharma companies has also increased outsourcing in manufacturing to meet the demand for high volumes of drug products. 

Adaptability and responsiveness: Switching COVID-19 vaccine capacities to alternative applications in 2023 showed that adaptability and responsiveness are always required in the pharmaceutical industry. This year, the focus is likely to be on orphan drugs, personalised medicines, changing regulatory requirements and smaller-scale projects.

Outsourcing is one approach that pharmaceutical companies can take to turn industry trends into opportunities. For example, outsourcing partners can provide services such as sterile fill/finish and a range of different packaging options, allowing pharmaceutical companies to successfully develop their products and deliver them to the patients who need them. 

Technologies and tools to improve sustainability

The pharmaceutical industry’s commitment to improving sustainability, including reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the value chain, will continue to be a long-term focus.

Alternative primary and secondary packaging materials are already being explored and new tools and technologies are being adopted that will help with sustainability in 2024.

In the clinical supply chain, forecasting solutions can help with accurate resource management, minimising waste and optimising resource allocation for sponsors.

Clinical trials are becoming more complex, highlighting that effective resource management is more important than ever and can drive reductions in waste, control costs and improve sustainable outcomes in the longer-term.

When seeking outsourcing partners, developers should look to organisations with trustworthy sustainability credentials. Contract partners with dedicated Sustainability Managers as part of their team and offering more ecofriendly packaging solutions are both good indicators of outsourcing partners that take sustainability seriously.

As awareness of sustainability issues increases in 2024, all players in the industry will need to work together to reduce their environmental impact.

The AI revolution

Artificial intelligence (AI) was one of the defining trends of 2023, which will continue to have a substantial impact in 2024. Integrating AI into drug development allows for expedited clinical trial timelines and increased supply chain efficiency, a revolutionary approach in the increasingly competitive landscape.

Pharmaceutical companies are partnering with AI specialists more often, highlighting that the industry is adapting to change and embracing AI in drug development. 

Moving forward into 2024

The trends in the industry mean that the year ahead has a lot of potential for pharmaceutical companies. With a proactive approach and partnerships with expert outsourcing companies, drug developers can turn trends into success for their products and deliver therapies to the patients who need them.

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