The Future of Pharma is Plant-Based

Recently, a Japanese drugmaker filed for approval in Canada of the world’s first plant-based vaccine against COVID-19. This is the latest in a string of new investments into innovation within the plant-based pharmaceutical sector. With a quarter of the world’s largest 2000 companies committing to carbon-neutrality by 2030, it should come as no surprise that the plant-based train is transgressing from the food markets to the pharmaceutical.  

Plant-based pharmaceuticals (PMPs) are the result of innovation within biotechnology and the push for sustainability across all sectors. Scientists in this sector have enabled plants to produce certain proteins that can be used in the development of medicine to combat life-threatening illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer. PMPs have the potential to revolutionize the world of medicine, enabling faster access to medicines than ever before.  

How is PMP development different to traditional pharmaceuticals? A major one is cost. Because PMPs are developed from natural, renewable materials, there are significantly lower production costs associated with them. Additionally, PMP development is not limited to specialist manufacturing facilities, meaning that scaling businesses will be easier as they grow to meet demand. This is coupled with the fact that traditional pharma is facing a massive shortage of factory and manufacturing facilities anyway. PMPs could relieve some of this stress.  

Pharma giant Pfizer is expanding its portfolio beyond the traditional remits of such companies as well. They have recently agreed to buy clinical-stage company Arena Pharmaceuticals for nearly $7 billion. Arena has a sector dedicated to the research and development of cannabis-based therapeutics. The company in the late stages of research for a treatment of multiple bowel diseases.  

Could there be space in 2022 for the release of cannabis-based medicine on a large scale? Still a relatively fringe product, we’ll be watching keenly to see how this burgeoning industry continues to become more mainstream.  

We expect to see further investments in these types of smaller, more niche areas of pharmaceuticals over 2022 and beyond. Moderna, a relatively unknown brand before the advent of COVID-19, blew up with its investments into alternative vaccine development and the subsequent distribution of said vaccine. This sets a precedent for further investments of the like – into smaller pharmaceutical companies exploring slightly non-traditional means of medicine. 

This also means that the small companies that I’ve been talking about won’t stay small for much longer. We expect this expansion of industry to have a profound impact on recruitment. This will call for the search and placement of candidates with extremely unique breadths of experience.  A combination of skills from multiple fields will be commonplace as these companies become more interdisciplinary.  

This will present a challenge for those in executive search, as such companies, still in their infancy stages, are unlikely to offer the host of benefits that candidates in high demand will expect. Companies looking to find the best talent to build out their offerings will need to work closely with recruiters to develop the best packages they can for potential candidates. The relationship between the client and the consultant has never been more important, as the consultant serves as the bridge between client and candidate in a manner that cannot be understated.  

Over 2022 and beyond, we can expect to see the mergers and acquisitions of smaller PMP firms with larger, previously established pharmaceutical companies, tying in with the overall trend of economic integration many are predicting.  

Feel free to connect with me to discuss any of the ideas mentioned above and more. Be sure to follow Proco Global on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with all the latest trends and developments taking place across the supply chain. For more insights, visit 

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