Personalised  medicine, which focuses on the concept of providing the right drug for the  right patient at the right time, could soon be the next big thing in the life  sciences sector

More than two thirds of life sciences companies now cite personalised medicine as an area where they will increasingly look to make acquisitions. But even though the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to drug prescription feels out of date, broad indication drugs remain the mainstay of the portfolios of most pharmaceutical companies.

In many cases, this is due to the predictable regulatory path making the development of broad indication drugs more reliable and effective. There is also the huge commercial market for these drugs, with almost half of life sciences companies seeing this as a benefit of developing further treatments. However, this is expected to change due to the highly competitive marketplace, where the struggle for differentiation has never been tougher.

Personalised medicine also offers the promise of higher returns despite smaller potential patient populations, given the more targeted nature of drugs.

Its use is already on the increase with UK research firm Diaceutics saying 19% of therapies on the market today are targeted in some way, up from 6% in 2010.

Carol Loepere, Reed Smith partner in Washington D.C. and chair of the company’s Life Sciences Health Industry Group, believes it represents the future. “There are already over 100 different drugs that are recognised by the FDA as having some type of personalised labeling in their usage,” she said.

Pharmaceutical companies believe technological advances will boost the move towards personalised medicine, such as the greater use of data analytics, but they warn that regulation is by far the biggest challenge inhibiting further such advances.

The conclusion is that although personalised medicine is undoubtedly an area of huge potential, it will continue to operate alongside traditional broad indication portfolios for the foreseeable future.