FiercePharma's annual look ahead, when the past really does predict the future

Crystal Ball
What's on tap for 2019? High tech and high dudgeon, with new digital amibitions running alongside an increasingly political battle over drug prices—and much more. (radiomoscow/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

In my files I have two sets of stapled pages listing every medication my parents took last year. They’re long lists. Blood pressure drugs, statins for cholesterol, painkillers. My father took methotrexate for his rheumatoid arthritis for decades and lived with heart failure far longer than most, thanks to his drugs and an implanted cardioverter defibrillator. An oral multiple sclerosis medication keeps my mother’s relapses at bay.

A dear friend of mine, thank goodness, just got insurance approval to start a PARP inhibitor for her ovarian cancer. Another had her hepatitis C cured with one of the next-gen drugs that are so expensive, yet so effective.

My uncle relies on basal insulin. My cousin takes a TNF-alpha drug for colitis. Another cousin needs a warfarin-alternative anticoagulant to prevent another DVT episode.

This is far from unusual. All of us know and love people who depend on drugs to literally save their lives.

Life. Death. Health. Illness. They’re all felt in the gut. We’re unable to handle pain intellectually; it hits us in the body and the heart.

This is why people are so emotional about drug prices, especially their own out-of-pocket costs, and not so much about the price of TVs. It’s why, as one of our year-end trend stories shows today, politicians are so eager to either sincerely work to make drugs more affordable, or cynically use the issue to win over voters—or in some cases, both.

It's why new approvals for immuno-oncology drugs—like those described in our article today—can inspire joy, and not only within company walls. It's why patients want digital health trackers and wellness apps, and why pharma's increasingly trying to provide them, as witnessed by the chief digital officers at the center of another story.

You might know someone who took the valsartan pills recalled this year and discussed in another of our year-end articles. I do. In fact, if you read over the rest of FiercePharma’s collection of trends to watch next year—the centerpiece of our coverage today—you'll likely find a personal tie to one of them.

So, we’re counting on all of you to be heroic. Continue to unlock the body’s secrets, make scientific breakthroughs, and find new treatments. Study them thoroughly, manufacture them carefully, market them honestly, price them fairly, keep your promises to monitor their safety and effectiveness in the real world, and tell us if they fall short. Make good ads. Tell the truth. Call out the bad apples.

And yes, make money. You are businesses after all.

We’ll be watching here at FiercePharma through 2019, covering the trends we’ve highlighted here and those that are still taking shape. Good, bad, indifferent and in-between. Feel free to tell us how we’re doing, too.