Cloud Computing Driving Change in Pharma Industry
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Cloud Computing Driving Change in Pharma Industry

Chris Braithwaite, SVP and Global Head, Drug Development Technology, Novartis
Chris Braithwaite, SVP and Global Head, Drug Development Technology, Novartis

Chris Braithwaite, SVP and Global Head, Drug Development Technology, Novartis

Chris Braithwaite is SVP and Global Head of Drug Development Technology at Novartis. Prior to working at Novartis, he also worked as the VP of Global Commercial IT at AstraZeneca, based in the United States. He is a dynamic senior technology executive with 20+ years of pharmaceutical experience in strategy delivery, digital transformation, and talent building. His proven track record of success in building scaled, high-performing teams and managing rapid change has brought solid business results through innovative investments in data and technology.

In an interview with Pharma Tech Outlook Magazine, Chris Braithwaite discusses the future of cloud disrupting development technology in the pharmaceutical industry.

As a dynamic senior technology executive with 20+ years of pharmaceutical experience in strategy delivery, digital transformation, and talent building, how do you see the pharmaceutical industry evolving?

The major transition that is currently taking place in the industry is the use of vast amounts of data to drive decision-making regarding the efficacy and safety of products for clinical trials and regulatory submissions. While there have been data-driven initiatives in the past, they usually revolved around fairly discrete data sets. Now, we are seeing much larger data sets being integrated into the decision-making process in order to, not only satisfy regulators, but also make critical business decisions about the portfolio we manage.

The other aspect is the ability to generate data. This will aid in comprehending how drugs perform in clinical and commercial settings, while also in recognizing the therapeutic benefits allowing for more informed decision-making. Some companies in the sector are leading the way and have made critical portfolio decisions, starting to decrease the time to reach medicine to patients. This break through involves driving clinical development life-cycle in a very data-driven manner.

What are some of the challenges existing in the pharma-tech space today? How is the cloud driving change for pharma?

Traditionally, we’ve had to think of our organization as discreet components because discovering, developing, manufacturing, and commercialization of medicines has been a fairly sequential processes with discrete interfaces. It is extremely tough to get those things to work effectively together and get a clearer view of what’s going on across those separate business operations as they’re so vast and scaled. The cloud enables us to expand and assists with managing the data that drives organizational success.

  The cloud enables us to expand and assists with managing the
data that drives organizational success   

 

Additionally, the cloud enables us to view business processes holistically, allowing us to consider patients in several different situations. The relationship to a patient participating in a clinical trial is not the same as a patient using a product post marketing approval, nor is it the same as a patient submitting a medical inquiry. Now that we can scale our business process to a higher level, we’re able to connect across the enterprise and provide a much more integrated perspective.

Why do drug companies need the computing power that hyper-scale cloud companies can provide and the ability to scale operations up and down quickly? Please elaborate.

Traditionally clinical trials are very controlled, with patients coming to a clinical trial center, where clinical trial managers have a very good understanding of exactly how many patients they are going to enroll in the trial, their visits and how that fits into the overall protocol. Decentralized trials, on the other hand, will necessitate a much higher level of agility. As a result, we require an infrastructure that is very elastic and capable of being where the patient is.

We are producing more data than we’ve ever generated before, and we want to be able to analyze it. The cloud gives us almost instantaneous and unlimited access to storage, computing and leading analytics capabilities. We are also partnering with large cloud companies to accelerate innovation in areas such as data science, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.

How do you see the future for cloud disrupting development technology in the pharmaceutical industry?

It is engrained in the DNA of Novartis Tech team to think with focus, agility, and speed, so it is a given that our technology roadmap is delivered to meet this priority and using the cloud is a great foundation. When we need to respond to disruption, we can respond with focus. This also ensures that we are solving the core problem, providing services rapidly and that we not bound by our own environmental limitations. Overall, it’s about being able to spot a problem and promptly respond to it. That’s always going to be critical as we move forward.

What would be your piece of advice for your fellow peers and leaders in pharma-tech?

The pharmaceutical sector is a highly regulated industry. When we consider a disruptive innovation, we must move with caution, thinking about all the constraints that could prevent us from being successful. My advice is to keep an open mind, because our current limitations are being disrupted themselves, creating exciting new opportunities that can improve and extend people’s lives.

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