Last week, I attended a conference on US-East Asia pharma collaboration at the Yale Club of New York City. Hosted by the New York Pharma Forum and the New York Health Forum, both organizations focus on creating and furthering opportunities for global pharmaceutical industry collaboration and development. I was delighted to join panelists Les Funtleyder, portfolio manager at Esquared Asset Management, and Debra Yu, managing director at Labrador Advisors, for the discussion, “Fitting into the Ecosystem: New Sustainable Strategies of Collaboration.” We talked about building successful partnerships among pharma and biotech companies from China, Korea, Japan and the US. The opportunity to see real innovation and collaboration coming out of these markets is incredibly promising. And the life sciences industry can learn so much from clinical studies conducted in those regions. Because patients react to drugs differently, we’ll be able to gain understanding on what drugs will work better for populations in Asia.
The conference also covered current trends in digital health and how they can impact clinical research. The idea of mobile devices will really change the clinical trial landscape. There are very few trials currently using mHealth technology, but I see that changing as the life science sector continues to grow in Asia. Technologically advanced societies like South Korea have the opportunity to be real leaders in the mHealth space. I recently visited Seoul, as part of a five-day trade mission organized by the Department of Commerce and led by Secretary Penny Pritzker. With almost 80% of South Koreans owning a smartphone, they are one of the most digitally connected societies. Clearly, there’s great potential in that region to utilize mHealth data in clinical trials. Mobile technologies have the potential to revolutionize our industry.
It’s clear that using new technology to run clinical trials will make a huge difference in these emerging markets. There will be an interesting change in the way drugs are developed, prescribed and the way they are adhered to. We see a future where you are prescribed a compound as well as an app to ensure adherence. Asia has an opportunity to be out front from a regulatory position, as well. Technology will change how trials are conducted and commercialized. Whether it’s a Fitbit, a Garmin vivofit or Nike Fuelpoint, you’re tracking something — that’s the benchmark. You’re gathering incredible amounts of data. It’s an electric biomarker.
The people that care about drugs care about effectiveness, and connecting a device that shows an improved quality of life will resonate with payers. In five years, if you submit a new drug application to the FDA, and a competing therapy has continuous data, that one will win approval. The FDA will not be the roadblock. I believe that incorporating mHealth data into clinical research will add great value to life sciences. But most importantly, it will help bring better treatments to those who need them most — the patients.
Guest blogger Bryan Spielman is executive vice president at Medidata Solutions. You can reach Bryan by email or follow him on Twitter @bryannyc.