The 3 Biggest Challenges for the Biopharma Industry

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Like everyone else, the biopharmaceutical (biopharma) industry is having to adapt to the sizable challenges that a more politically volatile world presents. Three areas in particular will determine how successfully companies navigate those increasingly choppy waters.

Top 3 Challenges for the Biopharma Industry

1. Supply Chain Issues

“Sustainable sourcing could have a significant impact on bio/pharmaceutical manufacturing.”1

Biopharma businesses are continuing to reorganize themselves after the seismic shock that Covid delivered. Aside from the effects of an entire industry having to completely redirect its focus, there continue to be all sorts of practical challenges that have to be dealt with on a weekly and monthly basis.

The production of things like glass vials suddenly needed to be increased, and then re-directed, as part of the global effort that went into finding and then distributing vaccines. With the result that all sorts of consumables suddenly became significantly harder to source.

With Covid still lurking in the background, supply chains are now faced with two further threats. In the short to medium term, they’ve to deal with the soaring prices of commodities, and the global inflation that war in Ukraine and tensions elsewhere have produced.

And in the long-term, the whole of manufacturing is in the process of completely re-imagining the way that it operates, as it becomes impossible to do business in anything other than a sustainable way.

2. Skilled Labor Shortage

“Talent is now biopharma’s weakest link”

That at least was the conclusion that the Financial Times came to after looking at Cytiva’s Global Biopharma Resilience Index2. A skilled labor shortage is of course something that every industry is having to address. But there are a number of factors that make this a particular challenge for the biopharma sector.

Technology is having a major impact, and on at least two separate fronts. On the one hand, all sorts of new avenues are opening up in terms of gene and cell therapies. Most notably, with the rapid expansion of mRNA produced vaccines, which will now be targeted at who knows how many other diseases.

This will require major investment around STEM (science technology engineering and mathematics), both regionally and institutionally, so that there’ll be a sufficient number adequately trained and educated employees to meet the sector’s needs.

And on the other, technology is transforming the way manufacturing operates. With the likes of automation, 3D printing, digital twins and the accelerated expansion of AI producing smart factories operated in an increasingly remote way.

All the data and analytics that that generates will require an extensive re-training and a careful re-organizing of the workforce.

3. Speed to Market

“74% of the novel drugs approved by FDA in 2021 used some form of expedited development.”1

One of the unintended consequences of producing a new vaccine, from scratch, in less than 12 months, is that the assumptions around how long it takes to get a new drug to market have been thrown out the window. With the result that there’s even more of an emphasis on speed than there was before.

But that desire for streamlining is coming up against the significant twin barriers of supply chain issues and the skilled labor shortage discussed above. And the only way for companies to square that circle is by harnessing the many advances in technology.

Technology Holds the Key

As Rose Mary Casados, a senior director at Lonza CHI, put it,

“Pharma is accelerating its digital Industry 4.0 transformation in pursuit of better cGMP (current good manufacturing practice) compliance.”1

As far as the day to day operating of your business goes, what that comes down to is employing the right software. Because what those three areas, your supply chain, workforce and speed to market all depend on, is data.

The right software will make you the ‘control tower’ in charge of all that data, orchestrating all your different activities and overseeing each of your projects.

It’ll manage all the data that everything produces as it moves through your supply chain. So when a part arriving from the other side of the world is delayed, you’ll know about it immediately. And will be able to take action.

Similarly, because you’re managing your resources so much more efficiently, your ESG metrics will improve, making your organization a far more attractive place to work at.

And, most importantly of all, because all your data is so much more reliable and accurate, they’ll be easier to access and interpret. Which will help you to improve your project prioritization and increase your portfolio’s ROI. Which is absolutely fundamental for succeeding in the biopharma sector.

Technology is changing the way the world does business. The right software can help you turn that to your advantage.

Find out more about Cora’s Life Sciences Project Management Software solutions solution can help overcome a variety of challenges for the biopharma industry.


1. Key challenges for bio/pharmaceutical manufacturing 2022 by Hannah Balfour (European Pharmaceutical Review)
2. “Biopharma reaches for homegrown talent” published by CYTIVA in partnership with the Financial Times

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