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The Best of 2017: Life Sciences Industry

As we look forward to the trends and opportunities in the new year for the life sciences industry, we reflected on some of the biggest moments in 2017, including some of our favorite reads.

CAR-T Cell Therapy and Personalized Medicine

In August, Novartis received the first FDA approval for a CAR-T cell therapy, which has launched wide open the market for this pioneering technology. Since this approval, the FDA has issued several other approvals for gene therapy treatments in 2017.  The approval of this novel approach to patient treatments is expected to be a paradigm-shifting innovation in the biopharmaceutical industry.  This development into the personalization of medicine isn’t a new concept for biopharmaceutical companies but the industry has just recently reached an inflection point where achieving and applying this science is within reach.

With the approval of CAR-T therapies, there are still significant hurdles to be resolved related to delivering these treatments to patients – particularly around pricing and supply chain security. These issues, and many others, will continue to evolve and begin to resolve in 2018.


There were two mega-deals in the life sciences industry in 2017, continuing the trend of industry consolidation. In October, Gilead Sciences completed the acquisition of Kite Pharma for approximately $11.9 billion, quickly jumping at the opportunity in the personalized medicine space.  Kite is a biopharmaceutical company engaged in immunotherapies, specifically CAR-T therapies designed to empower the patient’s own immune system.

Earlier in the year, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced the acquisition of Actelion for $30 billion in cash. As part of this acquisition, J&J received Actelion’s pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) franchise, including three patented medicines, Opsumit® (macitentan), Uptravi® (selexipag) and Tracleer® (bosentan).


In March 2017, United States President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. This study is looking at ways to combat and treat the scourge of drug abuse, addiction, and the opioid crisis across America.  Some experts project that the crack down on the opioid abuse will cost pharmaceutical companies in lost reputation and influence.  There are predictions that the federal government could join and support the growing number of lawsuits against drug companies and wholesale distributors over opioid sales.

Digital and Artificial Intelligence

Two other popular topics in the life sciences industry in 2017 were related to the impacts of digital technology and artificial intelligence on business processes and efficiencies. Are life sciences companies ready for digital health? Are patients ready? Clarkston Consulting explored the development of digital health tools and the uncertainty related to regulatory policies. Clarkston’s laboratory experts and quality systems consultants also explored the future of laboratories, looking at different artificial intelligence technologies designed to help life sciences companies embrace the future of laboratories and to determine whether AI technologies are the future of quality systems.

Coming in 2018

We are planning a lot more content – blog posts, videos, case studies, and more – for our life sciences readers in 2018.  We’re focusing our topics around the major trends facing our industry including artificial intelligence, digital, financial health, and personalization. To stay tuned on these topics and more, please subscribe for our weekly insights.

Tags: Life Sciences Trends