At first glance, a pharmaceutical corporation does not necessarily seem like the first place you'd expect to find tons of software developers. Yet as time passes, more and more software engineers do indeed find themselves in pharmaceutical firms - which leads one to wonder, what exactly is the role of software in the pharma industry?
Well, in case you've ever found yourself asking this same question, the first thing you have to know is that it's a valid one. Software does play a huge role in the pharmaceutical industry, and it continues to take on even bigger purposes.
Identifying what these roles are, to their full extent, can be tricky. And that is why we have provided an extensive guide in the sections below.
Role of software in pharma industry - Overview
As insinuated earlier, understanding the full role of software in the pharma industry takes more than just a couple of sentences. However, it can be summarized into the following:
Software in pharma allows for a smoother collection and transfer of information; development and integration of websites and applications; better business intelligence and task automation; and lastly, more efficient management of people including employees, customers, and data items.
All about information
The first and most crucial role of software in pharma - and practically any software whatsoever - is its use in collection, transfer, and utilization of data/information.
In fact, every role we're about to discuss below all falls under this umbrella. Every business, every company and every industry make use of information in one way or another.
A more efficient management and transfer of this information greatly increases output, which in turn determines success. Software helps facilitate these by performing the following optimizations for information management:
Quicker transfer and sharing of crucial information
Easier storage of information in large quantities for longer durations
More organized storage for easier categorization and retrieval
Higher business intelligence and dashboarding.
Importance by stages
Now that we understand the general use of software in information management, we can proceed to analyze its role in the pharma industries through various frameworks.
First off, we'll start with its role in the distinct stages of pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Drug discovery and preclinical development stage
Software can help optimize, accelerate, and monitor drug development right from the discovery and preclinical stages. Here software is used to perform the following tasks:
Manage medical data right from the early stages
Analyze and report patient clinical trial data
Integrate report forms for various cases
Assess clinical outcome through relevant module integration
Automate invoicing and reporting module.
Drug manufacturing stage
In the manufacturing stage, software can help monitor, organize, and manage product quality. It can also:
Streamline manufacturing to meet strict specifications
Manage operations with low margin of errors
Plan production and procurement
Be use in product quality assurance
Pharmacovigilance or drug safety stage
After production, drugs must be optimized to meet the strictest pharmacovigilance standards and ensure maximum safety. To achieve this, software can play the following roles:
Manage clinical request information
Monitor drug safety through unique drug safety monitoring software
Report adverse drug reaction through a unique drug reaction monitoring app
Integrate workflow with WHO drug dictionary
Manage adverse events through an adverse events database development.
Importance by businesses needs
The role of pharma software can also be grouped based on its effect on the business aspect of pharmaceutical development. Right from deployment up to marketing, software plays a huge role in the following processes:
Inventory and logistics - Software can simplify and streamline a pharmaceutical company's ordering, selling, storing and shipping process. It achieves this through automated inventory management, warehouse and logistics management, and supply chain management.
Manufacturing and trial enhancement - Software can greatly improve a pharmaceutical company's ability to automate and optimize their research and development operations. It can also help optimize data management, protocol creation, and so on. All of these, end up equating to better control over production, better production cycle, and an improvement in drug quality. And of course, better drugs tend to equal better business for the company.
Business resilience - Lastly, software insulates a pharma company from unforeseen circumstances and makes it more resilient to these occurrences. For instance, the pharmaceutical industry was able to survive the COVID 19 pandemic thanks to the technological armor provided by software and IT in general.
Importance by type
Lastly, the importance of software in pharma can also be grouped based on the exact software type.
ERP resource planning - ERP software (short for enterprise resource planning software) plays a number of critical roles in the pharma industry. These include managing and protecting product formulation, allowing for global integration, helping to meet regulatory compliances, helping with quality control and traceability, and providing support to sample management.
Finance - Every business, regardless of industry, relies heavily on the finance department to get things right so that the business remains profitable. The Pharma industry is no different. Software, in this case, helps greatly with billing and accounting, automating invoicing and financial reporting for optimal resource allocation among others.
Cyber-attack prevention - As the industry continues to become digitized, more and more malicious actors will arise. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most impacted by cyber-crimes, with the average cost of data breach hovering around $5 million. A strong software department helps mitigate instances of successful cyber-attacks by identifying weaknesses in the system, shoring up the cracks, reducing human error and improving general security.
Software plays a huge role in the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, its importance is so profound and so widespread that it can get difficult pinpointing them all. Above we have done our best to outline all major roles based on a handful of categories.
Ultimately, no matter what particular use you wish to gain out of software in a pharmaceutical sense, it never hurts prioritizing software and building a strong software development team along the way.
The future of your company - and indeed the entire industry - may depend on it.