Sramana Mitra: We have a little company within the 1Mby1M program called CleaningUp. Their discovery is that, as you said, a huge percentage of the workflow of drug development is still on paper and not digital. Especially when trials are held in international locations, people fill out papers.
They’re trying to transform that process into filling out iPads. They’re seeing a good deal of success in that world. It’s another niche phase of the market, but this is a company that is focusing on the part of the industry that has not moved online and it’s helping them move online.
Tarek Sherif: If you think about it, that’s really just the first stage – the backdrop for what is really the next problem that pharma faces. Currently for the environment that we’re in, you have to think about pharma’s development life cycle. Over the past decades, we’ve gone through waves of innovation in pharma.
There are periods of time where there’s a lot of productivity in terms of research that leads to development pipelines for drugs or therapies that actually have major impact on patients. Up until a few years ago, we’d gone through a lull in the amount of innovation we were seeing as some of the research techniques around genomics and biomarker discovery were in the research labs but hadn’t yet made it through to development and to the patients.
If you look at the environment today, we see the early days of a lot of new interesting drugs coming to market that have real benefits for patients like saving their lives or improving their quality of life. Those are very targeted and complex drugs to develop. The old process for doing it won’t work and won’t scale given the dynamics and the pricing dynamics that are being faced by pharma today.
They have this interesting problem where there’s a huge opportunity because the science is really unearthing new pathways for them to bring some very good drugs to market. But the process of bringing them to market is still based on an older paradigm. There’s a paradigm shift that has to happen. You’ve heard vendors like ourselves, Veeva, and others talk about their need to move into the cloud, but that’s only part of the equation.
The other piece is that because you have so much data and disparate kinds of data that now need to be assimilated, there’s a real focus on digital transformation. That’s something that we talk to our customers about all the time. One aspect is making sure you’re on the right infrastructure. The real opportunity is to then apply data science techniques and applying it to these various forms of disparate data to give pharma a much better view into which drugs will work when, on whom, and which perhaps won’t.
But it takes a lot more sophistication in skill than has historically been applied in this field. That’s one of the huge areas of opportunity going forward for any vendor, ourselves included. We’re very focused on that.