Mentions of industrial automation within the filings of companies in the pharmaceutical industry fell 25% between the third and fourth quarters of 2021.

In total, the frequency of sentences related to industrial automation during 2021 was 25% lower than in 2016 when GlobalData, from whom our data for this article is taken, first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.

When pharmaceutical companies publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Industrial automation is one of these topics - companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.

To assess whether industrial automation is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of pharmaceutical companies, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies which have mentioned industrial automation at least once in filings during the past twelve months - this was 56% compared to 48% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to industrial automation.

Of the 10 biggest employers in the pharmaceutical industry, AstraZeneca was the company which referred to industrial automation the most during 2021. GlobalData identified 31 industrial automation-related sentences in the United Kingdom-based company's filings - 0.3% of all sentences. Novartis mentioned industrial automation the second most - the issue was referred to in 0.16% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high industrial automation mentions included Roche, GSK and IQVIA.

Across all pharmaceutical companies the filing published in the fourth quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on industrial automation came from Tsumura. Of the document's 1,053 sentences, 11 (1%) referred to industrial automation.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on industrial automation and how important the issue is considered within the pharmaceutical industry, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning industrial automation more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into industrial automation have been successes or failures.

In the last quarter, pharmaceutical companies based in Western Europe were most likely to mention industrial automation with 0.11% of sentences in company filings referring to the issue. In contrast, companies with their headquarters in Canada mentioned industrial automation in just 0.01% of sentences.