Why and how the pharma ecosystem has radically changed in recent years

Innovations and trends in pharmaceuticals and healthcare

  • Publication
  • April 18, 2024

Covid-19 also accelerated digitalisation, and the use of big data and data analytics, which have been critical in driving the patient-centric approach and customised patient solutions.

The pace of change in the past 3–5 years in the pharmaceuticals and healthcare has been unprecedented. To explore these changes and the reasons for them, Michèle Paque, Senior Advisor Healthcare & Life Sciences, PwC Belgium, interviewed Peter Guenter, Member of the Executive Board and CEO Healthcare, Merck KGaA. They spoke about key evolutions in recent years, challenges for the pharmaceutical industry, the need for further innovation, and driving value for patients.

Peter described the most notable recent changes as nothing less than technological revolutions. For example, Covid-19 fully validated a new technology to make vaccines – mRNA technology – in an incredibly short time. Other exciting technologies that have started to come to market include cell and gene therapies, heterobifunctional molecules, molecular glue and anti-body-drug conjugates (ADCs).

pharma health industry photo

These years have also seen a change in investment focus, with a wave of developments focusing on major health challenges such as obesity, in parallel with a biotech funding crunch that has increased the difficulties of funding innovation.

Peter also outlined the shifting role of China in the sector. China is a new source of innovation, and the speed and productivity of clinical development there is impressive, he said, making China a strategic global player in biosciences today. He further pointed out the European Commission's responsibility to secure the competitiveness of the European pharma industry, and citizens' access to essential pharmaceuticals and innovative treatments, in this shifting ecosystem.

The importance of innovation cannot be overstated. For example, the whole world is facing the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), commonly known as resistance to antibiotics. Although it is estimated that AMR already causes over one million deaths per year, it has been nearly 40 years since a new class of antibiotics reached patients.

Peter described some of the industry initiatives to address these and other challenges in the sector, and the need to ensure more equitable access to healthcare products across the globe, as well as specific measures Merck Healthcare is taking to fulfil its mission.

“The European Commission needs to think twice about the impact of over-regulation. What's at stake is securing the global competitiveness of the European pharma industry while ensuring that all European citizens have access to essential pharmaceuticals and innovative treatments.”

Peter GuenterMember of the Executive Board and Chief Executive Officer, Merck KGaA
Peter Guenter

Peter Guenter

Member of the Executive Board and CEO Healthcare, Merck KGaA

Merck logo

For further insights into the changes in the global pharma ecosystem

Read our interview with Peter Guenter here

Contact us

Matthias Reyntjens

Matthias Reyntjens

Partner, Platforms & Industries Leader, Consulting Lead, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 476 44 53 92

Jan Debaere

Jan Debaere

Partner, Health Industries Lead, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 473 92 46 11

Michele Paque

Michele Paque

Senior Advisor Life Sciences & Healthcare, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 477 60 50 51

Connect with PwC Belgium