Opportunities await the pharma industry in a world of change

21 February, 2018

At the launch of the BioPharma Ambition conference 2018: Matt Moran, Oliver O'Connor, Killian O'Driscoll and Jean Delaney.

Launching the BioPharma Ambition conference 2018 at Dublin Castle are (l-r): Matt Moran, Director, BioPharmaChem Ireland; Oliver O'Connor, CEO, Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association; Killian O'Driscoll, Director of Projects, NIBRT and Jean Delaney, Leader, PwC Pharma and Life Sciences practice and tax partner.

International tax reforms and developments, Brexit and digital transformation will be discussed at the BioPharma Ambition conference 2018 taking place at NIBRT and Dublin Castle this Wednesday and Thursday, 21 and 22 February.

Speaking ahead of the conference, PwC Ireland's Pharma Life Sciences Leader, Jean Delaney, said: “There has been a really significant change in the US rate of corporate tax, from approximately 39% to 25% (including state taxes) and the US has introduced other provisions which it hopes will make investment in the US more attractive. The fear that these could produce a very different tax result in the analysis of future investment is real but the reality may be much less dramatic and more nuanced than companies might expect. As a gateway to the EU with access to over 500 million consumers, Ireland, having the highest performing Eurozone economy through to 2024 combined with a 12.5% corporate tax rate and a tax regime that rewards investment in R&D and intellectual property, remains a very attractive location in which to invest.”

“It is also important to remember that EU developments are having an impact. EU corporate tax reform has been creating new legislation that will come into effect over the next 1 to 3 years. The debate over where value is created and tax should be paid continues, driven by the debate on digital business but with the potential for spillover into all areas of business. Brexit has focused minds on questions of tariffs, trade and how to do business in the EU and UK.”

Susan Roche, International Tax Director, PwC Ireland, said: “US tax reform legislation is in its infancy, only being in place less than 2 months, so it’s difficult to understand exactly what the broader macro-economic impact of the provisions will be for companies or countries. Uncertainty is still rife as some of the provisions are novel, and regulations and guidance on how they are to be implemented is not yet available. As companies and their advisers work through the provisions and gain an understanding of their operational impact we will then see how they drive change (if any). At this juncture however, it is fair to say that fundamentally Ireland is still a sound proposition for maintenance of existing investments and attraction of new investments. The core values which Ireland can offer still stand and in uncertain times, and times of change in the global tax environment, the value placed on stability and sustainability increases.”

Scott Lawson, Director, Pharma and Life Sciences Practice, PwC UK, said: “The pharma industry needs to do more to embrace the opportunities presented by Industry 4.0 – being the fusion of technology and manufacturing through which pharma companies can transform into digital enterprises. Pharma companies need to adapt and transform their business models from end-to-end. While the pharma industry is moving from a human-based ecosystem to a machine-based digital ecosystem, requiring complete integration, the pace of this transformation needs to be enhanced. For example, digital logistics enabling faster delivery of medicines to patients, track and trace, 3D printing of drugs in pharmacies, shared cloud platforms, innovative packaging solutions, automation and robotics, blockchain and artificial intelligence ecosystems as well as strategic partnerships all present great opportunities to reduce risk and will be essential for greater efficiencies and cheaper cost of drugs.”

Some specific examples include: Enhanced patient compliance: smart pills, paired with wearable devices, will allow the tracking of patient compliance. This, coupled with big data analytics, could open the way to outcome based reimbursement; machine learning: feeding data into the system will spot patterns potentially disruptive to quality and efficiency at a rate humans could never achieve; personalised drugs: ability to produce drugs with more complex release profiles; regenerative medicines: tissue replacement using 3D bio printers to print living tissue with 'ink' derived from human cells; digital drugs: digital drugs interaction to pair therapies with a digital device to enable patients uptake and improved results; advanced AI: cognitive technology to unlock vast amounts of health data and power diagnosis.

“By investing in a smart, strategic way in digital connectivity and capabilities such as these, pharma companies will be able to boost their competitiveness, deliver better patient care at more affordable costs and help secure their future viability, relevance and success. Seizing this opportunity isn’t an option – it’s an imperative.”

Speaking about the changing nature of global trade, John O'Loughlin, Customs and International Trade Leader, PwC Ireland, said: “Irish-based pharma companies are having to move away from looking at global trade and related customs matters as being an operational matter to addressing it in a more strategic way.” In addition, he also addressed that understanding the Brexit impact across all parts of the business continues to be a critical action. For pharma companies, the biggest concern resulting from Brexit is regulatory compliance followed by the challenge of getting products across the border while ensuring that there are no risks of delays and subsequent compromise of finished products or raw materials anywhere in the supply chain.


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Contact us

Jean Delaney

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6280

John O'Loughlin

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6093

Susan Roche

Director, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6290

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