Pharmaceuticals and life sciences

Across the pharmaceuticals and life sciences value chain, we help our clients evaluate their strategic business options, improve management and control, and identify cost-saving initiatives.


The pharmaceuticals and life sciences industries are at a pivotal point. Scientists and the medical community have gained immense knowledge of COVID-19 in less than a year, with the development time of vaccines reduced to months instead of years. We know the difficult decisions and trade-offs that executives face.The global need for innovative, cost effective medicines continues to rise while regulators, payers, healthcare providers and patients are demanding greater value for money, proven effectiveness of products, more transparency and access to information. Companies are seeking ways to improve R&D productivity, increase the efficiency of operations, rationalise spending and enhance financial performance. Across the pharmaceuticals and life sciences value chain, we help our clients evaluate their strategic business options, improve management and control, and identify cost-saving initiatives.


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Prevailing challenges in the pharma & life sciences industry

How we can add value

Tax issue

The pharmaceuticals and life sciences industries are among the most heavily regulated in the world. As these companies grapple with ways to grow revenues, reduce costs and compete with the generics, one area of focus is the overall effective tax rate. The first obstacle to reducing its effect is the ever-increasing regulatory and compliance requirements imposed by governments worldwide. Increasingly, tax authorities are focusing on companies with extensive worldwide operations, trying to challenge their business models, and often to tax additional income originally allocated and taxed in another (usually lower-rate) jurisdiction. We work with our clients to ensure that these considerations are taken into account, allowing for a no-surprise situation regarding cross-border tax and regulatory requirements.

Sustainability issue

Companies and stakeholders are looking for new sustainable business models for the longer term. Strategic options include vertical integration versus virtual company, generic versus innovative product manufacturer, traditional medicines versus biologics, makers of medicines versus providers of health care packages. These companies are addressing important questions about existing and future revenue generation, and how to align operational and financial tactics to enable their chosen corporate strategy. We are working with our clients to explore strategic options and begin the process today of restructuring their business for tomorrow. We help to identify those areas with the most realistic potential and devise and review pragmatic business plans that maximise value.

Increasing digitisation

Digitisation is revolutionising the way we work, the skillsets we need and the way we structure our organisations. In the pharmaceuticals and life sciences industry, new technologies will enable greater understanding of disease, reduce costs in R&D, manufacturing, and the supply chain. Technology will also encourage closer relationships with regulators, payers, providers and patients through a more integrated approach to product development and marketing and health provision through greater transparency and sharing of information across companies, and with third parties, including industry regulators and potentially patients in the future.

Commercial operations

In the current environment of poor product pipelines and broader customer bases, the traditional commercial operations model of driving revenue with ever larger sales forces is no longer sustainable. Rather, organisations will evolve to become more efficient and deliver differentiated effective messages tailored to the specific needs of diverse customer segments, including patients, insurers, government and physicians, and changes in product mix. We work with you in targeting commercial operations resources according to customer needs and relevant regulations.

Entering new markets

Entering into new markets across Africa can be daunting. Our team works seamlessly with our economics unit to identify key markets for expansion. This includes a regulatory and tax review, a demographic analysis (including burden of disease), a review of the funder environment, competitor analysis and possible business partners. This enables you to tailor your expansion planning and ensure a considered and specific approach to your Africa growth agenda.

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Contact us

Keeran Ramnarian

Keeran Ramnarian

Pharmaceuticals Leader, PwC South Africa

Tel: +27 (0) 11 797 5540

Saffiyah Bootha

Saffiyah Bootha

Partner, PwC South Africa

Tel: +27 (0) 11 797 4900