Pharma’s next frontier: Explore 4 trends shaping the future of the pharmaceutical industry

By:  Pharma Solutions Editors



  • Staying ahead of the rapidly evolving trends in the pharmaceutical industry is key to developing innovative therapeutics that support the health of patients and the planet.
  • These include the heightened focus on sustainability and supply chain resilience, as well as novel drug delivery formats and innovative therapeutic categories, such as biologics and cannabinoids.
  • Read on to explore how drug manufacturers can leverage the top trends to thrive in the pharmaceutical market by prioritizing sustainability, transparency and patient-centricity.

As the pharmaceutical market expands to reach a projected value of US$1.156 trillion in 2024 with a compound annual growth rate of 6.19% anticipated through 2028, staying ahead of industry trends is key to success in this rapidly evolving landscape.1 In this blog, we delve into the pivotal topics propelling the pharmaceutical sector forward, from sustainability initiatives to supply chain resilience and breakthroughs in novel drug delivery formats, including emerging therapeutic categories like biologics and cannabinoids.

1. Raising the bar on sustainability

The healthcare industry has a significant carbon footprint, accounting for 4-5% of total global emissions, making it crucial for pharmaceutical companies to take active steps toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions to curb climate change.2 While progress is being made, many companies still face pressure to adopt more of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and provide transparent communication about their sustainability efforts to build trust with patients and avoid greenwashing accusations.

At the recent 14th World Meeting on Pharmaceutics, Biopharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology (PBP), 18-24 March 2024, sustainability was a major talking point. Emphasis was placed on the importance of sustainably sourcing key raw materials, such as palm oil, due to the substantial environmental impact that can result if these ingredients are not obtained from sustainable sources. To address this challenge, companies can follow guidelines set by organizations, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), to ensure their raw materials are derived in more planet conscious ways. Additionally, holistic sustainability beyond raw material sourcing was highlighted, underscoring the need for businesses to address environmental responsibility across all aspects of their operations.

For dsm-firmenich, sustainability is more than just a buzzword – it is intrinsically embedded in our purpose and we prioritize key criteria and differentiators to align with the expectations of our external and internal stakeholders. We have important sustainable initiatives aligned with the United Nations SDGs, aimed at safeguarding both people and the planet. For instance, we are pushing the boundaries to help deliver pioneering vitamin-based medicines in more sustainable and impactful ways. Plus, we can help our partners meet their own sustainability goals through our Imp'Act Card™ program, which is fueled by our in-house Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) expertise. The Imp'Act Card™ is a transparent tool that measures environmental footprint on an ingredient level. It helps customers calculate the total carbon footprint of the ingredients utilized in their formulations and, ultimately, understand the impact of our products on their ever-demanding sustainability objectives.

In another exciting development, DCAT hosted its inaugural Sustainability Summit: The Global Bio/Pharmaceutical Sustainability Imperative, on May 21-22, in Lugano, Switzerland. The purpose of the summit is to assemble leaders in the pharma industry to discuss, debate and find solutions and coherent approaches to address sustainability across the supply chain – and dsm-firmenich is a proud partner.

2. Securing the future of pharma with resilient supply chains

Ensuring a robust and sustainable supply chain has become an increasing priority for pharmaceutical companies and their customers. At this year's DCAT Week 2024, held from March 18-21 in New York City, an insightful talk by IQVIA highlighted the growing problem of supply chain security. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities and lack of transparency across global supply chains, causing inter-country tensions, poor cooperation and export bans. As a result, stakeholders are now working together to enhance resilience through multilateral actions.

In addition to the above, disruptions from natural disasters, geopolitical tensions and regulatory changes further threaten medicine supply and patient care. To reduce this risk, companies are diversifying suppliers, adopting digital technologies and increasing supply chain transparency. To this end, dsm-firmenich offers a reliable global network of Good Manufacturing Practice- (GMP)-compliant facilities with stringent safety and sustainability standards, providing scale and redundancy to minimize disruption risks.

3. Innovative delivery formats unlock therapeutic frontiers

While small molecule drugs dominate the current pharmaceutical market, the industry is witnessing a surge in pioneering technologies like biologics – drugs derived from living organisms. However, achieving a robust formulation of these innovative medicines is key to therapeutic success. At the recent PBP event, biologics were a hot topic, alongside lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), which are an innovative delivery technology for a diverse range of therapeutic agents, including RNA vaccines. PBP highlighted that while biologics and LNPs hold great promise in the pharmaceutical space, poor stability, viscosity and other complex formulation challenges can restrict their success. That’s where excipients come in. 

Excipients can help overcome even the most difficult formulation challenges. For instance, our high-quality specialty excipient portfolio – including vitamins and vitamin derivatives – can support both small molecules and biologic products, acting as stabilizers, viscosity reducers, adjuvants for vaccines and nutrients in biopharmaceutical cell cultures.

4. Medical cannabis in the limelight

A field of research and development showing significant promise across the pharmaceutical landscape is the growing medical cannabis category. At this year’s ACannabis conference on March 12-14, in Melbourne, Australia, key insights into this exciting category were revealed. For instance, delegates at the event were aware that it is not just the increasing therapeutic data driving the cannabinoid market forward – as the word ‘bioavailability’ cropped up more than once. The limited solubility and variable bioavailability of cannabinoids, like cannabidiol (CBD), make it difficult to A) tap into the full therapeutic potential of these compounds and B) create more patient-friendly dosage forms, such as oral solid delivery systems. To overcome this barrier, our cannabinoid innovation platform is breaking technical boundaries to unlock patient-inspired oral solid dosage formulations.

We are currently able to offer a formulated CBD drug product intermediate with optimized bioavailability, which enables high drug loading and facilitates the development of more patient-friendly delivery systems, like orally disintegrating tablets (ODTs). However, it’s not just CBD that’s gaining attention from the pharmaceutical community. One insight from ACannabis was that research behind minor cannabinoids is growing too. 

A key takeaway from these industry trends is that many drug developers are looking for solutions that go beyond ingredients – especially in the oral solid dosage forms and biologic therapy realms. As a purpose-led innovator inspired by keeping the world's growing population healthy, we’re uniquely powered to deliver solutions tailored to our customers’ unique needs, helping them to succeed in the rapidly evolving pharmaceutical landscape.

Connect with us to learn how our technical expertise, global perspective and high-quality ingredients can help drug developers succeed in the pharma market.

Published on

17 June 2024


7 min read


1 Pharmaceuticals – Worldwide. Market Insights. Statista. Last updated March 2024.

2 N. Watts, M. Amann, P. N. Arnell et al., The 2020 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: responding to converging crises, Lancet, vol. 397, pp. 129-170, 2 Dec 2020.