Precision medicine: science fiction or near future?

The term “Personalized Medicine” or “Precision Medicine” refers to an experimental field of Medicine that uses an individual’s genetic profile for diagnosis, prevention and treatment. An area on which the pharmaceutical industry is putting investments and energy.  

Indeed, each person has unique biological characteristics that can significantly affect how the body responds to treatment. A difference that is particularly relevant in life-saving therapies, such as those against cancer or AIDS, in auto-inmune diseases and in the neurological field, but that affects all levels of therapy, even that of so-called “over-the-counter” drugs. One example comes from ointments for the treatment of skin conditions, such as acne, psoriasis or atopic dermatitis: the skin is indeed a magnificent biological expression of our uniqueness as people. The cosmetic industry also knows this well, and for years has been focusing on creating customized formulas to maximize the results of beauty care. 

So in the future we will go to the pharmacy with a prescription that no longer contains the name of a medicine we need to buy but…our own name! And based on that, we will be assigned medicines created specifically for us.   

Personalized Medicine finds strong support in the Public Sector, particularly in those states, such as Italy, where Health Care is faced with increasing spending, also due to an aging population. Targeted and more effective care leads not only to a better quality of life, but also to considerable savings for the pockets of states and individuals.    

A magnificent ideal to strive for. However, to make it achievable, it is necessary to consider its feasibility for the mass market, a prerequisite for maintaining affordable costs. In other words: it is necessary to lower this ideal into the dimension of industrial scalability. And this is not an easy step.  

There are two “needle loops”: upstream, in the formulation phase, and downstream, in the pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution phase. In the former, strong support for research comes from the world of Big Data: today we have a huge amount of data available from hospitals, public and private health institutions, laboratories, and even mobile health and sports apps. They remain isolated, however. Bringing them together in a single IT structure would allow them to be cross-referenced and thus obtain information that can more effectively guide scientific research.

An access that will have to be regulated with respect for privacy but can bring enormous benefits. Even for the individual patient: this is demonstrated by the Digital Twinning project carried out by Siemens, which envisages the creation of a “digital twin” for each patient, with all the details related to his or her health always within app reach. A solution that will be able to be integrated with the electronic health records of Public Health Systems and/or private medical insurances and will enable faster and more effective action.   

The downstream node remains: how to concretize this new approach in production processes and in the distribution chain? As pharmaceutical packaging manufacturers, we are familiar with the needs of the pharmaceutical world and know how conservative this world is inclined to be, not least because of regulatory compliance issues: therefore, it will not be easy to convey a change of this magnitude. However, we can already touch on a changed approach to supply requests for pharmaceutical ointment tubes, and one that outlines a future made up of flexible supplies, articulated more on supplies composed of small batches rather than the large numbers of the past. An approach that is also useful in dealing with changing, increasingly competitive markets, characterized by an increasingly predominant role of Digital and impatient, “disloyal” consumers. 

It will become increasingly important for pharmaceutical companies to have a partner at their side that can meet these new requirements. With Tubettificio Favia’s more than 80 years of experience in pharmaceutical packaging and Perfektüp’s international production facilities, we are able to offer concrete solutions to these market changes. Would you like to learn more? Contact us! We’ll be glad to know about your projects and provide the best solution to meet your needs in pharma packaging.  

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