“There’s no question that 2023 brought its fair share of challenges, from high interest rates to stifled investment and recession fears. However, as we enter 2024, I feel incredibly optimistic. Economic indicators are positive and we anticipate that biotech firms, previously hesitant in their investments, will gain access to much-needed capital in the new year. With many drug therapies in the pipeline, we expect a rise in demand for talent, and we are prepared to assist both businesses and employees alike.”
– Bret Cerasoli, President, Black Diamond Networks
“With so much to discover, create, and innovate, 2024 promises abundant opportunities. The biotech, pharmaceutical, and medtech industries are making significant strides in the right direction. As Bret mentioned, we’re seeing recovery in the industry on the investment side, which is always a bright indicator. However, to maintain a competitive edge, companies need the right people in the right roles at the right time. We look forward to being that continued resource to our clients this year and into the future.”
– Ben Locwin, SME, Head of Project Solutions, Black Diamond Networks
Here are the top trends we’re monitoring across the life sciences industry for the first quarter of 2024 and beyond.
Oncology will dominate
We anticipate oncology to be at the forefront of therapeutic advancements. Oncology drugs are poised to represent the largest share of activity, with the market expected to grow from $205 billion in 2023 to $484 billion by 2030. The oncology drug segment witnessed slower growth following the pandemic as pharmaceutical companies shifted focus to COVID-19 therapies, but we anticipate a rapid resurgence in the coming years.
Emphasis on Cell and Gene Therapies (CGT)
Cell and gene therapies will continue to play a prominent role in our clients’ portfolios. There is significant promise in CAR-T cell therapy for conditions like blood cancers and lymphoma, and gene therapies are being explored for rare diseases that have never had treatments before. Additionally, we’re seeing mRNA technology emerge as one of the fastest-growing sectors. The drug pipeline for mRNA therapies has exploded, with data revealing 211 drugs are currently in preclinical development.
Impact of GLP-1 drugs
The use of GLP-1 drugs such as Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Rybelsus for weight loss has transformed the market and ushered in a new way of thinking. Instead of pharmaceutical companies setting the agenda, consumers are driving drug demand and usage. While the financial markets have reacted favorably, some in the medical device industry are exercising caution, as this particular class of drugs may upend how diabetes is treated. These medicines are challenging traditional wisdom about treatment options and overall health, and we’re witnessing the future unfold right before our eyes.
Advances in Clinical Trial data
Finally, clinical trial data has recently evolved. Biostatisticians are increasingly incorporating more qualitative data, such as patient-reported outcomes (PROs). This can lead to situations where data might not initially appear to be compatible with how trial data have historically ‘looked.’ However, the future of pharmaceutical data analysis includes many varying data sources, and preparing for that is the smartest approach.
Aside from its many external initiatives, the FDA has been internally-focused on improving the agency’s efficiency and effectiveness. While the FDA introduced its Data Modernization Action Plan (DMAP) back in 2019, the impact of that plan has been felt slowly. We continue to learn more about how the FDA intends to intake, review, and harness data digitally. We also know there are some challenges companies face as they align with the FDA’s new processes.
Here are additional FDA and other industry initiatives we’re monitoring.
- ICH E6 rev. 3 is bringing in important shifts to make clinical trials more flexible and innovative. They’re embracing new technology and diverse trial designs, and making sure to include more input from patients. The focus is on making studies more efficient while also tackling quality risks.
- FDA’s Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) is another move by the FDA to make sure prescription drugs are traceable. This act sets up a system for electronic tracking of drugs at the package level, making sure we can identify and trace them as they move around the United States.
- FDA Project Optimus marks a shift in oncology drug development, moving away from the Maximum Tolerated Dose (MTD) approach to a randomized exploration of optimal dosing schemes. The goal is to make things safer and more effective for a wider range of patients.
- FDA Project Orbis is introducing a way for oncology products to be submitted and reviewed at the same time internationally. This streamlines the process, making it faster for patients to get their hands on essential medicines. It’s a fresh approach to global regulatory approval that’s making waves.
We expect demand for consultants with specialized skill sets to pick up in Q1, continuing throughout 2024.
Anticipated roles with increased demand include:
- Quality Engineers
- Validation Engineers
- Regulatory/Compliance experts
- Clinical Trial Managers
- Clinical Trial support (CRAs, ClinOps)
- QC Lab analysts
What clients need to know
- Demand for on-site consultants is increasing, but be flexible where you can. To attract the best candidates, consider offering some level of flexibility in pay or remote work options.
- Don’t underestimate consultants’ passion for engaging work. They love what they do and get excited about unique opportunities. Highlight the unique aspects of your project: advanced tech, latest drug therapy, innovative clinical trials, etc.
- Ensure consultants experience a positive onboarding process. Take team dynamics and cohesion into consideration, communicating this information to consultants. Ensure they know the dynamics they’re walking into and make them feel like a valued member of the team.
- Given the aforementioned advancements in the industry and regulatory changes, companies need to prepare themselves for change management. Ensure you have the people, resources, and knowledge you’ll need now to avoid being rushed later.
What consultants need to know
- Now is the time to connect with your Recruiter to discuss your next project. Let them know your preferred rate, project types, and career goals.
- With the growing preference for on-site work among employers, carefully consider how far you’re willing to travel or commute. Remote opportunities may be limited.
- We are seeing the return of the Medtech (robotic surgery, orthopedics, medical device) space. If you have experience, let your Recruiter know.
- We anticipate the length of assignment will increase in 2024 and land closer to 12 months. In 2023, we saw generally shorter assignment length (~ 6 months).
Whether you’re seeking top talent or exciting career opportunities in life sciences, let’s connect. Interested in learning more?