Pharmaceutical Instrument Companies Rush to Meet Precision Medicine’s Demands

The demand for pharmaceuticals grows higher each year, as the global population ages and diseases once associated with so-called developed regions, become more prominent in other areas. As medical knowledge elucidates the underlying causes and mechanisms of various diseases in fine detail, approaches to disease treatment are shifting. With the rise of precision medicine, medical treatment is tailored to the individual characteristics of the patient and the disease, which has been made possible by the clinical commercialization of advanced analytical instrumentation, such as sequencing. As the market for precision treatments rapidly expands, companies in the pharma/bio space have adapted by investigating and developing highly targeted therapeutics. This has also led to a shift in the types of therapeutics being developed, as biotherapeutics, which are derived from molecules with a biological basis (i.e recombinant DNA and antibodies) are able to target disease with much higher specificity than small molecule drugs.

The shift to precision medicine has driven major changes in how we think about the structure of the pharma/bio sector. Traditionally, relatively large companies that develop small molecule drugs were thought of as “pharma” companies, while companies developing biotherapeutics, which often conjured the image of scrappy little startups, were thought of as “biotech” companies. However, this dichotomy never truly existed in the sector, and is not very useful in classifying participants. The advance of biotherapeutics as a focus of development among players of all sizes and stages of business development has thoroughly erased the distinction between “pharma” and “biotech” at the company level.

The nature of biotherapeutics and their role in precision medicine is fundamentally changing the model of drug development and marketing. Because biotherapeutics are so highly targeted to specific disease and patient types, the patient pool for each drug is much smaller, compared to the old pharmaceutical model of developing “blockbuster drugs” that could treat large portions of the population. This has led to development pipelines involving a greater number of drugs, and an overall proliferation in the number of laboratories in the pharma/bio space. However, because resources are spread across the development of more therapeutics, the R&D infrastructures for individual labs are growing leaner.

SDi’s newly published report, titled Lab Instrumentation Markets for Pharmaceuticals, Biopharmaceuticals, & CROs, is an in-depth analysis of how these trends and challenges are shaping the demand for analytical instrumentation and lab equipment in the pharma/bio space. With demand exceeding $19 billion in 2018, the pharma/bio sector is the largest source of demand for laboratory instrumentation, representing 30% of the overall market for laboratory and life science instrumentation. Trends in pharma/bio development involving 64 technologies in 10 categories are examined though historic market growth and forecasts for demand over the next five years, while end-user perspectives gained through a survey completed by 120 pharma/bio researchers provide further insights into development pipelines, laboratory budget, and challenges being faced in therapeutics development.

Companies we covered include: 

  • Agilent
  • Becton Dickinson
  • Bio-Rad
  • Bruker
  • Danaher
  • GE Healthcare
  • Illumina
  • Mettler Toledo
  • MilliporeSigma
  • PerkinElmer
  • Shimadzu
  • Thermo Fisher
  • Waters