Expert view

Key questions about IoT in the pharma industry: Q&A with GlobalData analyst

Credit: Bert van Dijk/Getty images.

Powered by

Wafaa Hassan, MSc, is a senior healthcare analyst in the digital team at GlobalData. Her responsibilities involve writing reports and providing insights on digital strategy across disease areas and channels. Before joining the digital team, Wafaa worked in the thematic research team at GlobalData, where she contributed to quantitative and qualitative analysis reports on disruptive themes and technologies, with a focus on pharma, healthcare and medical devices sectors. Prior to joining GlobalData, Wafaa studied for an MSc in healthcare management at City, University of London.

What are the most exciting developments in IoT for the pharmaceutical industry today?

Wafaa Hassan: As the field evolves rapidly, IoT tools play a crucial role in supply chain management and are widely used in the pharma industry, from manufacturing processes to remote patient monitoring applications.

For example, industrial monitoring devices are used to control operations within facilities and access real-time status information. Such monitoring devices can alert staff in any case of urgent maintenance requirements.  

Machines such as compressors and conveyor belts can be connected and can ‘talk’ to one another to reduce waste and energy usage and increase yield and efficiency.  

Suppliers of the machines used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals are also trying to make their equipment more user-friendly and easier to debug by using apps and screens at every stage of the process.  

Tools such as virtual reality (VR) are slowly gaining traction in the drug discovery space allowing R&D teams to improve the efficiency and quality of research. VR technology helps researchers and scientists to observe molecules and better understand how proteins work.

Do you think adoption of IoT technologies will grow significantly in the next two to three years?

Wafaa Hassan: Post Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the pharma industry has undergone increased levels of digital transformation. The availability of ultra-large datasets and technological advances has led to more interest in the use of IoT tools and big data analytics across the pharma value chain, from drug discovery and clinical trial design, right through to sales and marketing.  

Organisations across various sectors are investing in digital transformation initiatives, and IoT is a key component of these strategies. The integration of IoT into existing business processes can lead to increased efficiency and competitiveness.  

Are you seeing any barriers to implementation of IoT in pharma?

Wafaa Hassan: Yes, there are a few that were barriers over the last several years when implementing IoT tools, and some are ongoing.   

For instance, regulatory compliance is an important one to consider. The pharmaceutical industry operates within a highly regulated environment. Meeting regulatory requirements, such as those set by health authorities like the FDA, EMA, and other relevant agencies, can be a significant challenge. Ensuring that IoT systems adhere to data privacy, security, and quality standards is crucial.  

The sensitive nature of pharmaceutical data, including patient information and intellectual property, raises concerns about data security and privacy. Implementing robust security measures to protect against cyber threats and unauthorized access is essential, especially when dealing with patient health data.  

Which companies are the leading adopters of IoT in pharma right now?

Wafaa Hassan: Companies like Bayer, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer, and Roche are active in the IoT space and have collaborated with IoT vendors for various and different applications in the pharma industry. 

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.   

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence uses proprietary data, research, and analysis to provide a forward-looking perspective on the key themes that will shape the future of the world’s largest industries and the organisations within them.