Global Life Sciences & Healthcare Forum 2022: Facing the opportunities and challenges of a vibrant life sciences sector


Digital advances and innovative therapies are pushing the boundaries of health and the legal world has to keep pace

Life sciences are fizzing with ingenuity and innovation with revolutionary gene and cell drug discovery and digital advances pushing the frontiers of global healthcare.

But the transformative promise is freighted with complex concerns over sustainability, affordability, digital security, contracts and IP ownership. The issues range from scientific technicalities to existential and ethical questions over Artificial Intelligence’s ability to generate approaches free from human hand.

The changing landscape was brought into focus at the CMS Global Life Sciences and Healthcare Forum 2022 where experts highlighted the challenges and explored guiding principles.

The panel, chaired by CMS London partner Louise Boswell, heard that current economic pressures and geo-political shockwaves are radiating across business performance and supply chains, which are crucial to commercial viability and the landscape is being further stressed by ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions.

Laetitia Szaller, General Counsel & VP Business Development at AM Pharma, told delegates that a new pragmatism was needed when negotiating collaborations with partner companies and she emphasised the need to create contracts with suppliers that are flexible enough to weather storms and protect all parties from current and future pressures.

“The reality is that you have to find a solution,” she said. “It will come down to how do we share the risk and how do we share burden? Having your partner bleed out is not going to be leading to a happy ending.”

The pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine have caused unprecedented turbulence across supply chains and Szaller advocated for all stakeholders to be involved in early stage discussions to avoid the time and cost risk of changing supply chain partners because of inflexible agreements.

The CMS Technology Transformation: Managing Risks in a Changing Landscape, report found that 56% of corporate counsel and risk managers surveyed were expecting a rise in disputes involving AI over the next few years.

The panel session also got valuable insights into the complexities and difficulties of building AI systems in life sciences – the global sector is forecast to grow at 20% CAGR between 2022 and 2030 – from Anita Prinzie, Product Manager, Omnia Technologies Machine Learning.

“We try to face the risks head on,” she commented. “We want to tap into the opportunities to build valuable digital health apps that will support much more personalised experiences, which we all actually want.

“There is more health data – just like we have in the retail sector - but this data is very personal. It's your personal health data. So, when companies ask us to help personalise those health experiences, it is a yes but we have to look at the risks. We cannot jump for joy and just apply whatever algorithm from the shelf.

“It is very difficult and is not only an AI problem but an AI risk management problem.”

She added that regulations over privacy and data protection varied across countries so the company created core programmes that can be amended for different nations rather than construct new systems for each country.

The panel, which included CMS partners Brian Sher and Tom De Cordier, discussed a range of issues such as licensing agreements in a changing environment, including the freshly-minted sector of collaborations based on early stage innovation and research, ‘killer acquisitions’, competition law, regulatory complexities and IP rights.

Nick Beckett, Global Co-Head of CMS Life Sciences & Healthcare Sector Group, observed: “Advances are coming thick and fast in life sciences so we need to make sure the legal sector can respond positively to ensure that new technologies and therapies get to the people that need them most.

“Sharing sector intelligence and experience is key to understand where friction points arise and allows us to find solutions that empower the sector.

“The entire CMS Forum was full of insights and knowledge and we are committed to utilising best practice and innovative approaches to get the best for our life sciences and healthcare clients.”