The global pharmaceutical industry is facing a bold new era. With a growing appetite for advanced technologies applied to processes across the organization, life science companies are modernizing everything from clinical R&D to commercial product launches. Powerful big pharma is partnering with agile biotechs to introduce exciting new treatments. And there’s a growing focus on the patient voice, putting more choices into the hands of consumers. With so many forces at work, what are the essential pharmaceutical industry statistics you need to know in 2023?
In this article:
- Pharma R&D spending
- Clinical trial enrollment challenges
- Why patients discontinue trials
- Patient diversity in clinical trials
- Patient services in pharma
- Pharma investment in artificial intelligence
- Digital transformation in pharma
Let’s dive into the year’s essential pharmaceutical industry stats.
Top pharmaceutical industry statistics
Ultimately, these numbers tell a story about the future of the pharmaceutical market. Leaders can see how the life science vertical is changing in response to everything from climate change and COVID-19 to supply chain issues and artificial intelligence. They are responding by taking steps to evolve and modernize.
Here are the most remarkable pharmaceutical industry statistics:
- The pharma industry spends $100 billion on R&D annually
- On average, it takes 19 months to enroll patients in trials
- 30% of patients discontinue trials due to a poor non-clinical experience
- 61% of surveyed pharma companies have defined goals and objectives to enhance clinical trial diversity
- Only 1 in 5 patients are aware of services provided by pharma companies
- Pharma spending on AI in drug discovery could top US$3bn by 2025
- 82% of biopharma leaders say the digitalization of operations will continue post-pandemic
#1 – The pharma industry spends $100 billion on R&D
The impressive speed at which COVID-19 vaccines reached the public was a win for pharma, but it also created intense pressure to repeat the feat. Acceleration is a buzzword for sure – not only from the perspective of patients who might receive life-changing treatments but for pharma companies and their bottom line.
The pharma industry as a whole spends $100 billion on research and development annually. If drug developers can accelerate time-to-market by three to five years and extend the number of years before patent expiry, the value of acceleration is significant. This often leads pharma companies to make strategic decisions about merger and acquisition activity – particularly regarding more agile biotech companies with the benefit of speed but not necessarily the muscle to take promising drugs over the finish line to launch.
#2 – On average, it takes 19 months to enroll patients in trials
Clinical trial timelines are designed to ensure that new treatments are safe and effective for patients. Therefore, it’s impossible – and not desirable – to rush them. But trial sponsors want to be efficient during the recruitment and enrollment periods, which are essential for keeping trials on track.
Approximately 85% of trials don’t begin on time due to enrollment issues. To some extent, this is dependent on the type of trial. For example, enrolling healthy participants in a trial may only take a few months. For other disease areas – rare diseases, oncology, and gastrointestinal conditions – enrollment can take years, significantly affecting trial success.
By making the clinical trial process more convenient for enrollment and participation, industry leaders can gain better research results, fewer failed trials, and more trust from physicians and patients. – Deloitte
Learn how to improve patient recruitment in clinical trials.
#3 – 30% of patients discontinue trials due to a poor non-clinical experience
Trial retention is an important element of successful trial execution. Study sponsors can suffer severe setbacks if enrollees don’t complete a trial. According to Accenture, the statistics are sobering:
- Across more than 300,000 clinical trials, only 5-10% of eligible patients are even aware of the studies
- 30% of patients drop out due to non-clinical issues
- 19% of trials close or terminate early because they don’t have enough participants, causing an estimated $800 billion loss in value
What are the non-clinical issues that cause patients to discontinue trial participation? It’s important to remember that patients are regular people dealing with work, family, and possibly health issues, which may interfere with prescribed trial activities. Patients may find it difficult to travel to trial sites due to scheduling or the cost of transit. They also may be concerned about missing work or arranging childcare.
To minimize these issues for participants, trial sponsors investigate the benefits of decentralized clinical trials, including fewer barriers to participation and increased participant diversity. Many aspects of clinical trials – such as documentation and data collection – are already digitized. As more consumers prefer to manage their healthcare using online portals and apps, the demand for virtual or decentralized trials will likely increase.
Read more: learn about virtual clinical trials.
#4 – 61% of surveyed pharma companies have defined goals and objectives to enhance clinical trial diversity
When the FDA approves prescription drugs, consumers may assume clinical trials accurately represent the population they are designed to treat. However, most trials primarily enroll white male patients – while people of color make up about 39% of the population, these groups only represent between 2-16% of patients in trials.
Clinical trials primarily enroll white male patients, with consistent underrepresentation of women, the elderly, and people of color – especially Black and Hispanic patients. While people of color comprise about 39% of the US population, these groups represent 2% to 16% of trial patients. This disparity hurts patient outcomes and drug companies’ bottom lines.
Accordingly, more than half of pharma companies have identified a strategy to address this issue. Some elements of these strategies include:
- Working with patient groups, community organizations, CROs, and other groups to establish a more sustainable trial infrastructure
- Updated data collection to support the accumulation and sharing of demographic and real-world data
- Developing patient-focused resources that make it easier to learn about, enroll, and participate in clinical trials
#5 – Only 1 in 5 patients are aware of services provided by pharma companies
Patient services are a tangible example of pharma’s commitment to patient centricity. They are particularly important in high-value therapies for oncology and rare diseases, where addressing patients’ needs is critical. However, research over five years revealed that neither awareness nor use of these services increased, even as leading pharmaceutical companies increased their investment. What factors are preventing the adoption of patient services?
- Pharma reps are typically focused on products and not services like educational support or financial assistance
- HCPs are considered a key source of information for patients, but most HCPs are not aware of patient services
- Patients increased their use of digital services during COVID-19, but most pharma companies don’t have an integrated communications approach and can’t leverage these channels
To realize the value of their ongoing investment in patient services, pharma companies should take steps to help all parts of the organization better understand patients’ needs. What does this look like in practice?
The United States FDA has issued guidance on including patients in the drug development process from the earliest stages. Known as patient-focused drug development or PFDD, these practices create a framework in which patients are regarded as an important part of the clinical R&D and clinical trial design process.
#6 – Pharma spending on AI in drug discovery could top $3bn by 2025
Artificial intelligence in drug development offers intriguing possibilities for pharma. By finding efficiencies in the drug development process, the industry could save tens of millions every year, bring treatments to market more quickly, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.
Accordingly, the industry is increasingly relying on AI to support drug discovery. One of the most striking pharmaceutical industry statistics is that spending on AI will reach $3 billion by 2025 as companies invest in technology that may reduce the time and costs required to bring a new drug to market. AI-based drug discovery alliances are also increasing, from just 10 in 2015 to 105 in 2021.
The aim is to overcome a very low success rate in drug discovery, with just 10% of candidates making it into clinical development despite applying new computational technology techniques to handle an ever-growing amount of biomedical data.
It takes 12 to 18 years and about $2.6 billion for a new drug to reach the market – even for high performers among the top 10 pharmaceutical companies.
Learn more about artificial intelligence in drug development.
#7 – 82% of biopharma leaders say the digitalization of operations will continue post-pandemic
The COVID-19 crisis exposed the industry to supply chain disruption, a temporary halt to in-person meetings, and pressure to deliver treatments and supplies to the healthcare industry. Faced with these multiple challenges, pharma turned to technology to understand how to streamline operations and reveal efficiencies. Ahead of the next crisis, 82% of industry leaders expect this trend to continue.
“Research suggests that there is now an urgency among biopharma executives to take risks, invest, and innovate faster to gain an edge over the competition, which can be achieved through leapfrog digital innovation.”
Organizations that want to build on digital gains made during the COVID-19 pandemic can take some distinct steps to get ahead. Based on input from industry experts, Deloitte recommends:
- Establish digital innovation goals for each functional area, and understand the operational shifts needed to achieve them
- Rethink traditional IT approaches
- Outline success factors to measure progress toward goals
Pharmaceutical industry statistics: main takeaways
The pharmaceutical industry is rapidly evolving to meet formidable challenges. The strategic deployment of technology – including artificial intelligence, insights management, advanced analytics, and other tools – will support pharma teams as they embrace changing times. Organizations should also continue to emphasize developing and evangelizing patient services, trial diversity, and an overall patient-centric approach.
This year’s top pharmaceutical industry statistics paint a clear picture. While drug companies will see the benefits of digital transformation in total pharmaceutical sales, the most important benefit is to patients who will receive better drugs and treatments within shorter timelines.