Demographic, epidemiological and economic shifts are transforming the pharmaceutical market. The population is growing and new areas of medical need are emerging. The diseases from which people in developing countries suffer are increasingly similar to those in the developed world. These changes generate huge opportunities for Pharma. Global warming could also have a major effect on the world’s health.
Society will become increasingly technology literate and technology driven. Technology will be deployed fully to dispense most prescriptions, provide drug information to patients, and facilitate the exchange of patient-specific data among and within health care systems.
The pace of new discoveries in biotechnology and health care and the appearance of whole new fields of endeavour in recent years, have made for an exciting and challenging time for pharmacists. The increasing demands of understanding how modern medicines work at the molecular level, the shift towards predictive, preventive and personalised health care and challenges from nanotechnology and stem cell technology have added to the need for pharmacists to remain experts in medicine.
Another emerging field which will impact pharmacists is the advent of ‘personalised medicine’, enabled by the genomic revolution. Indeed, the human genome project has led to the identification of over 32,000 genes in human cells. And, through the burgeoning field of pharmacogenetics, it is increasingly apparent that the effectiveness and toxicity of drug regimens vary from patient to patient as they are influenced by the genetic make-up of the individual.
The future of health care is closely intertwined with developments in nanotechnology, stem cells, genomics and proteomics. Nanotechnology is here with us today and is being used in an evolutionary manner to improve the properties of many therapeutics and healthcare products.
How these technologies will evolve and be used safely for all our benefit will be one of the great scientific adventures of the 21st century and one in which pharmacists will play an important role.