The healthcare industry saw its share of ups and downs in 2022. Our response to the worldwide pandemic evolved over time, and so did the needs of the sector and the people relying on healthcare companies to deliver solutions. Along the way, mergers and acquisitions continued to happen, new drugs and devices got approved, and innovations in the clinical trial industry were introduced.
In a recap of this eventful year, we take a moment to look at some of our biggest stories that relied on data and experts to inform our audience about the latest developments in the world of pharma, medical devices, and clinical trial operations.
Tracking the news
Covid-19 loomed large at the beginning of the year, with a rise in cases seen in January in several countries. Newly authorised Covid-19 antivirals garnered interest for their potential to slow the spread. With the help of government data, Andrew Hillman and Manasi Vaidya investigated how the uneven rollout of these antivirals across the US was leading to scarcity in many places, and how the demand for the much-favoured Paxlovid was not being met.
Russia’s war on Ukraine dealt a blow to healthcare services in the area that had far-reaching ramifications. Reynald Castaneda wrote about the affected clinical trial ecosystems in both countries, while Fiona Barry and Manasi analysed the impact of the war on the supply of the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V to the rest of the world.
More than two years after the start of the pandemic, Andrew used data to show how the supply of vaccines to countries in Africa remained less than optimal, and that clinical trials remained disrupted to a certain extent in some areas. A few months later, the monkeypox outbreak showed the difficulty in accessing vaccines and antivirals despite a plan to stockpile them.
Drug pricing was a hot-button topic, and William Newton found that while e-commerce chains could cut insulin prices, any major change won’t happen overnight.
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On the regulatory side, the European Union launched a new system to register and oversee clinical trials, while Akosua Mireku wrote about the changes at the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) heralding a new age of health technology assessments.
Even when authorised in the European Union, access to chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T therapies has been difficult in Eastern Europe compared to the west, wrote Adam Zamecnik. While lockdown measures continued for most of the year in China, specialised CAR-T research continued to advance faster in the country than elsewhere. Still, the country’s clinical trials sector remains insular. Catherine Longworth wrote about the impact of China’s domestic focused-agenda on medical device sector, and also analysed the ramifications of the European Commission blocking Illumina’s plans to acquire Grail, for the European medical device industry.
Tracking drug development
Alzheimer’s disease drugs were constantly in the news, and not always for the right reasons. While the approval and reimbursement decisions for Biogen’s Aduhelm and other monoclonal antibodies remained controversial, William wrote about the biotechs that are steadily exploring vaccines for Alzheimer’s. As our understanding of this neurodegenerative disorder continues to grow, Akosua wrote about how biomarker research could support drug development in this area.
If recent mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are anything to go by, the interest in developing treatments for orphan disorders is only growing. Irena Maragkou kickstarted an exclusive Rare Disease Spotlight series, with the first edition tracking how the popularity of the FDA’s Orphan Drug designation program, has increased over almost 40 years. In a data-backed analysis, she further explored how the most number of designations are awarded to cancer drugs, and genetic disorders have the largest share of orphan therapies. Patients with ultra-rare disorders face even more challenges in getting a new therapy investigated or approved. William explored the unique state of affairs when it comes to drug development for such n=1 ultra-rare diseases.
Throughout the year, alongside emerging news, we covered the unique factors driving the research, development and use of drugs to treat lung cancer, obesity, antimicrobial resistance, and even the less understood prion diseases.
Tracking the diversity push
The ‘diversity’ buzzword was used by all and sundry in 2022, but beyond the headlines, Clinical Trials Arena investigated what pharma is doing on the ground to improve its record. First, clinical trials still need to do a better job in terms of including women and improving the participation of trans and nonbinary individuals. Urtė Fultinavičiūtė also wrote about the complex factors that prevent the participation of people with cognitive impairments, and how proving consent remains a challenge.
Racial biases in medical device development continued to gain attention, as Kezia Parkins wrote about the limitations of pulse oximeters in assessing blood oxygen levels in people of colour.
Tracking the latest trends
In 2022, through several exclusive data-led analyses, Clinical Trials Arena led the charge on exploring the different facets of decentralised clinical trials or DCT. With an exclusive DCT tracker, Clinical Trials Arena identified the areas where DCT adoption remains high, and Alvaro Arjona wrote about how data could help deconstruct the DCT trend.
Tech trends permeated with the pharma space, as Darcy Jimenez wrote about how NFTs or nonfungible tokens could help patients monetise health data, and Urte investigated how the metaverse could be exploited to conduct clinical trials. Not all was hunky dory, however, as challenges kept digital pills from being more popular.
In pharma manufacturing, continuous manufacturing protocols continued to garner interest, but experts told Adam that their use has been gradual.
Thank you for continuing to follow our coverage at Pharmaceutical Technology, Clinical Trials Arena and Medical Device Network. See you in 2023!