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As 2016 draws to a close, we reflect on a strange year for the pharmaceutical industry and some important pointers for what to do about it. 2016 will for sure be remembered as a year of major political change. The UK’s vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump promise a new world order for both people and businesses – and plenty of uncertainty with it. In the same year the pharmaceutical industry has had once of its worst years for FDA approvals in a decade and been buffeted by scandals over price hikes. Meanwhile pharma companies have continued to spend lavishly on M&A, despite the notable fall from grace of serial acquirer Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

To complement our consulting work, Novasecta has been responding to press and TV interest in our perspectives on industry developments through the year and published white papers on topics of most relevance to our clients. Below we highlight a selection from these.

To examine how the pharmaceutical industry should respond to the unwelcome surprise of the UK’s Brexit referendum result, Novasecta privately interviewed 20 top executives from leading European pharmaceutical companies. Our conclusion for pharmaceutical companies was to watch and wait, while keeping their focus on developing and commercialising great medicines for patients.

From our commercial practice, we explored how to beat the trend through new commercial habits, by integrating a combination of dynamic strategies, clear and practical action plans, and great management systems. We then described how excellent brand reviews can make a real difference through a strong evidence base and an orientation towards action

From our R&D practice, we explored how to manage R&D to create value. We also identified a new breed of leading pharmaceutical companies and how they have been responding to the new funding environment of cheap money by defragmenting R&D and re-inventing their organisations in ways that can innovate and deliver better results. They have been using a mix of clever partnering skills, profound multi-disciplinary knowledge, and operational excellence.

In a year when digital became yet more relevant to the industry, we explored the on-going disruption and changes to the pharma industry, helping to frame what digital means to the pharmaceutical industry, suggesting that it needs to centre round the patient, and providing a step-by-step approach for the successful implementation of digital initiatives.

Finally, in our annual MidPharma report we explored the nature and evolution of European-headquartered mid-sized pharmaceutical companies, and examined pertinent relevant trends in the industry to provide our readers with non-standard and thought-provoking insights. Our conclusion was that focus, flexibility and strong partnerships are must haves for all successful pharmaceutical companies.

2016 was certainly a very rich year in events with important implications for the pharmaceutical industry. As pharma and biotech companies set the direction for the year ahead it is more than ever important to stay strategically focused, to build and expand carefully selected and relevant capabilities, and to organise for the challenges ahead.

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