How the Pandemic Has Changed the Pharmaceutical Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic swept through the world and changed the rules of engagement like never before. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry too had its own fair share of the pandemic-induced changes. Some of these reformations were short-term. However, others have outlived the pandemic and become ingrained in the very core of how many pharma firms now operate. 

In these articles, we dissect a few differences that the pandemic has brought to the Pharmaceutical sector.

Change in drug regulations

During the epidemic, governments of different countries implemented temporary changes in drug regulation. These regulations were to guarantee drug availability to those who needed them. 

For example, the Australian government, through the office of the minister for health and aged care, authorized some temporary modifications to the regulation of medicines. It was to ensure that Australians could have access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications amidst COVID-19. Some of the temporary regulations were:

  • Permission of pharmacists to substitute medicines in the event of scarcity. 
  • Limitations on the number of prescription medicines that can be bought to avoid unneeded pharmaceutical stockpiling.
  • Supply of PBS medications without prescription for a stipulated period.

Although some of these regulatory measures have been suspended, there are requisitions by pharmacists to retain these measures post-pandemic.

Outsourcing of vital components of the value chain 

The pandemic put the health sector on its toes as the need for COVID-19 medications was urgent. People suffering from different chronic disorders had to stock medications in preparation for the lockdown. There was increased demand for prescription medicines, medical practitioners and medical equipment worldwide. 

A study by GoodRx health reveals that between March 13 to 21, 2020, asthma medications increased by 65% and 25% for type 2 diabetes medications.

The increased demand caused a strain on the health sector in general. To tackle the pressure of production, pharmaceutical companies had to outsource important components of the value chain to CDMO for biologics to meet up. This trend of outsourcing appears to be an adaptation that has come to stay.

Improvement of digital capacities

Considering that face-to-face meetings became impractical as the pandemic unfolded, virtual meetings were necessary. Pharmaceutical companies had to bolster virtual interactions with frontliners in the health sector. All these are to collate adequate data on the latest trends in healthcare in order to adapt and enhance drug research and development. Even post-pandemic, virtual interaction and advanced digital tools are still wielded.

The focus of pharmaceutical research on COVID-19 medications

With the pandemic, research focus shifted from every other issue in every sector to COVID-19. There was a burden on the pharmaceutical industry to come up with a vaccine. This halted other drug research and development and prioritised COVID-19 clinical trials. It also subjected the industry to scrutiny due to ethical concerns about the short timeframe for the development of vaccines and their long-term effects.

In Conclusion 

The COVID-19 pandemic was a huge blow to the pharmaceutical industry. While some changes to the sector are short-term, the industry may have to continue with new methods. These new methods have opened the eyes of the pharmaceutical industry to better ways of productivity in drug research and development.

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