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Forecast for 2017 Trends in Pharmaceutical

Empty syringes

The pharmaceutical industry has a far more promising outlook in 2017 than in previous years due to a number of factors, including renewed investment in research development and strong growth projections for a number of promising treatment fields.

More than 854,000 people currently work in the biopharmaceutical industry in the United States across a broad range of occupations, according to SelectUSA, such as scientific research, technical support and manufacturing. Directly and indirectly, the industry supports a total of 4.4 million jobs across the United States.

Lift in R&D investment

The increase in research and development (R&D) is likely to create an uptick in hiring in 2017, says Michele Cook, director of divisional operations. Companies are pursuing research advancements in many areas, including biotech, pharma and medical devices, creating a growing need for research associates, research and development scientists, chemists and lab technicians.

Streamlined approval from FDA

The implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures) that was signed into law last month will also impact the industry. Broadly speaking, CURES aims to modernize clinical trials and streamline the approval process for promising treatments, with special focus on pediatric diseases, medical devices, vaccines and other fields of research.  The law also provides the FDA with $500 million toward modernization and the recruitment and retention of the best and brightest scientific professionals.

“This could spur an increasing focus on biometrics and drug safety, as there will be a heavy reliance upon data to approve drugs,” according to Patrick Bauer, Aerotek’s manager of clinical operations. “And then the safety of more quickly approved drugs will need to be monitored closely.” The infusion of funding into pharma could mean that drug manufacturers are able to complete trials more quickly and at a lesser cost, which could result in additional hiring as more trials take place.

Industry growth will get an additional boost as top-tier branded drugs lose patent protections and other intellectual property rights, opening the door for biosimilars to enter the market and increase competition among producers of biologics.

Big data: The game changer

Medical devices, which dramatically increase the amount of data we have on patients, have the potential to radically transform how the pharmaceutical industry operates, particularly in relation to research and development. The ability to monitor patient health remotely and capture the information will make it easier to collect huge quantities of data on how patients respond to different treatments. As one industry marketer commented, “every patient experience now generates rivers of data which, if pooled intelligently, can trace a detailed portrait of a patient’s health and, when aggregated with other patient data streams, can coalesce into deep reservoirs of knowledge about entire disease states and patient populations.”

As the industry expands, hiring companies will look for ways to source, recruit and secure the best talent, and establish a healthy pipeline for future growth. Larger engagements may also benefit from outsourcing certain work to a contract research organization (CRO) or a Functional Service Provider (FSP).

As the American population ages and the developed world spends more on quality of life, the growth of pharmaceuticals is positive not only for 2017 but also into the future.