Digital-Pharma Partnerships

The Pharma/Digital-Health Startup Gap. What's going wrong?

Post by
Naomi Fried, PhD

Original article published by MobiHealthNews on May 25, 2021

Authors: Laura Gunn PhD and Naomi Fried PhD

Digital health has the potential to transform the pharmaceutical industry and the patient experience. Both digital health startups and pharma are eager to engage each other. Pharma continues to have significant need to leverage innovative “beyond the pill solutions.” Digital health startups offer a wealth of potential solutions. Investors have noticed: such startups attracted over $6.7b In Q1 2021 alone.

But given the potential synergy, why aren’t we hearing more pharma-startup success stories? Simply put, there is a “pharma-startup gap,” a disconnect due to the divergent ways pharma and startups operate. Differences in size, speed, processes and culture make it challenging for pharma and startups to partner.

Pharma firms are powerful and stable, with the resources and personnel needed to develop and test their products. But their ability to change course is limited and takes time. Pharma companies are complex organizations which operate via a myriad of internal processes. They have built sophisticated channels for connecting with healthcare providers, navigating government regulation, and handling payments. Safety and quality are nonnegotiable; they must be initially demonstrated and then continuously monitored. As a result, pharma often moves slowly and cautiously. The average time from discovery to drug approval is over 10 years. To bring that single product to market typically costs over $2 billion.

Digital health startups are the exact opposite... [Continue to the full article here]

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