As we enter 2020, one drug class that is set to take-off is gene therapy. With three approvals (Zolgensma® (US), Zynteglo™ (Europe) and Beperminogene Perplasmid (Japan), 2019 was a break out year for gene therapy developers. The $16 billion-plus investment by various investors finally seems to be paying off as we enter 2020 with a gene therapy pipeline of close to 500 candidates and support from almost all the big pharma players.
While several positives make us all very optimistic about the future of gene therapies, there are a few challenges that must be addressed before these therapies can achieve their true potential. Challenges related to pipeline development, platform selection, manufacturing, and reimbursement are amongst the top hurdles that these companies are currently facing. Also, the challenges related to supply chain and logistics are beginning to arise as these therapies reach the market.
These logistical challenges are more pronounced when products are to be distributed to international markets. Given the lack of experience specific to gene therapies in the industry, the networks may not be as developed, and delay times at ports of entry may be ruinous to products with limited shelf lives. A few other industries that have faced such logistic issues in the past are – the food delivery market, and the rental cabs or bookings market. Earlier, it had become so difficult to track the status of your pizza order. But now, with the rise of mobile applications, you can track the progress in real-time.
Let us imagine a scenario wherein you are celebrating the new year’s eve with your family. You have decided to order pizzas for the family from this amazing restaurant. You call the restaurant and place the order. The restaurant confirms your order and then the wait begins. 10 minutes….20 minutes…30 minutes pass and you have no idea where your order is. The new year celebration excitement suddenly turns to anxiety and you are worried and unsure about when can you exactly expect your pizza.
Now let us think about what happens to a patient that is eligible for a gene therapy treatment. Given the exhaustive inclusion criteria, only a limited number of patients qualify for these therapies, and once they qualify, the wait begins. And it is not just the patient who is waiting, their entire family, along with the doctors are anxiously waiting for that personalized dose of cells to be delivered at the hospital bed that can finally cure the disease. If we are ready to stretch our imaginations, this wait and anxiety that the patient faces can easily be compared to the pizza hut craving that you were having on the new year’s eve.
The solution – simple. Get an App!!
Do what every company seems to be doing these days. Make personalized therapies even more personalized. Get an app that tells the patient the whereabouts of their therapy across the supply chain. Give the patient some control and deliver not just a therapy, but an experience.
Some of the players, such as (illustrative list) Trakcel, Veeva, Be the Match BioTherapies, are already deploying solutions that can be used to efficiently manage and streamline various aspects of the complex supply chains of cell and advanced therapies. Presently, there are more than 160 innovative software-enabled systems for managing the cell and advanced therapies supply chain.
To know more about these developers, check the report here.