Skip to main content
main content, press tab to continue
Survey Report

Global Life Science Risk Report 2024

How the industry perceives emerging risks and challenges

June 27, 2024

The life science sector is growing rapidly in gene and cell therapies, biologics and vaccines, despite challenges like high costs, talent shortages, regulation concerns and raw material scarcity. A survey of 400 decision-makers shows firms are expanding into new markets and using automation to improve efficiency.
Casualty|Climate|Cyber Risk Management|Direct and Facultative|Facultative|Marine|Mergers and Acquisitions|Property Risk and Insurance Solutions


The life science sector has experienced rapid evolution in recent years, driven by scientific breakthroughs in areas such as gene and cell therapies, biologics and new vaccines.

However, this swift progress has also brought challenges. Some innovations have not lived up to their initial promise, and concerns about the high costs of drug development have grown.

Additionally, companies are struggling to find individuals with the specialized skills they need.

In our second Life Science global survey, we asked 400 senior decision-makers about their perspectives on this changing landscape.

We explored their views on the main risks and opportunities, how they are managing emerging challenges, and their plans for the future.

Our findings revealed that firms are worried about various issues, including increasing regulation, data privacy, talent shortages, product contamination and raw material scarcity. They are concerned about the potential impact of these issues on their brand and reputation.

Despite these challenges, companies are pushing forward into new markets and discovering novel applications for existing drugs, devices and therapies.

Looking ahead, there is a growing focus on launching new products, expanding internationally, and utilizing automation and smart manufacturing to increase efficiency and address workforce challenges.

About the survey

Our survey was carried out by our partner Coleman Parkes research in January 2024, using a mixture of phone interviews and web-based survey forms.

We received 400 responses from senior decision makers within life science businesses based in Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

Key findings

  • Expansion and new products: Expanding international footprint (36%) and launching new products (33%) have become top strategic priorities, shifting from a focus on collaborations and M&A in 2023.
  • 66% rated repurposing existing drugs for new use cases as a leading emerging theme affecting the sector.

  • Drug repurposing: Repurposing existing drugs is favored, seen as a significant opportunity by 41% and a leading emerging theme by 66%, due to the rising cost of new drug development.
  • Smart manufacturing: Smart manufacturing was the leading digital transformation opportunity, named by 67% of respondents among their top five, with automation at 56%. These technologies can increase both reliability and efficiency, while also helping to plug some of the gaps in the life science workforce.
  • AI and machine learning: AI and machine learning are increasingly recognized for their potential in various aspects of the industry, with 55% citing them as major opportunities, up from 50% previously.
  • 53% Ranked increasing regulation as a top external risk

  • Regulatory challenges: Increasing regulation is the top external risk (53%) and a leading challenge (51%), impacting drug pricing, data privacy, and ESG strategy, reflecting heightened regulatory scrutiny.
  • Supply chain risks: Stockpiling and panic buying have emerged as significant supply chain risks, cited by 61%, reflecting concerns over inventory shortfalls and a general increase in buffer stock needs post-pandemic.

How to use this report

How to utilize insights from this report for your life sciences business:

Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment: Begin by analyzing potential risks specific to your industry, including intellectual property, supply chain vulnerabilities, technological advancements, and regulatory changes. This foundational assessment informs strategic decision-making.

Implement proactive risk mitigation strategies: Leverage the strategies outlined in the report to mitigate identified risks effectively. Enhance cybersecurity measures, bolster supply chain resilience, and ensure compliance with evolving regulations. Address workforce challenges and align internal culture with strategic objectives.

Optimize insurance coverage: Review your current insurance policies to identify gaps in coverage, particularly for intellectual property, climate-related risks, and business continuity. Tailor your insurance portfolio to address specific challenges in the life sciences sector, ensuring comprehensive protection for your business.

Monitor emerging trends: Stay abreast of emerging trends such as technological advancements, automation, and sustainability goals. Continuously adapt your risk management strategies to align with evolving market dynamics, ensuring your business remains agile and responsive to change.

Promote a culture of risk awareness: Share key insights from this report with relevant stakeholders to foster a culture of risk awareness and proactive management within your organization. Encourage collaboration and knowledge-sharing to enhance resilience across all levels.

Benchmark against industry standards: Compare your risk management practices against industry benchmarks and peer organizations. Identify areas for improvement and implement best practices to maintain competitiveness and operational excellence.

Address climate goals: Focus on turning 2030 climate pledges into reality by implementing detailed policies and enforcement activities. Prioritize double materiality and increase transparency in managing physical and transition risks.

Enhance risk management processes: Utilize an enterprise risk management (ERM) approach to capture and mitigate critical risks across your business. Define risks, assess vulnerabilities, and implement effective controls to support strategic objectives

By leveraging the insights provided in this report, you can strengthen your organization's resilience, capitalize on growth opportunities, and navigate the complex landscape of the life sciences industry with confidence and adaptability.

For specialist guidance in discovering smarter ways to manage your risks in the life sciences industry, reach out to us today.


WTW offers insurance-related services through its appropriately licensed and authorised companies in each country in which WTW operates. For further authorisation and regulatory details about our WTW legal entities, operating in your country, please refer to our WTW website. It is a regulatory requirement for us to consider our local licensing requirements.


North American Industry Leader - Life Sciences

Steve Feick
Director, Life Sciences Industry Vertical

Contact us