What the Pharmaceutical Industry Can Expect From 2021

2020 has been a year full of uncertainty, restrictions, and rapidly changing conditions. The search for a Covid-19 vaccine has kept the pharmaceutical industry busy. But even though a vaccine has now been found, the pharmaceutical industry will face further  challenges in 2021: Pharmaceutical companies and countries worldwide must work together to prepare for the largest simultaneous global health initiative ever.

Covid-19 vaccination campaigns are underway across the globe, but available doses are still in short supply. There is a lot of logistical effort behind the vaccination campaigns: Governments need to work on a delivery plan to calculate how many vaccine doses are required and how they will be distributed. Other decisions that need to be made are: Which vaccine will we receive? - Especially if multiple vaccines are available. Where and when can the population be vaccinated? Which educational measures are required to provide information about vaccination and, if necessary, to allay the fears of the population?

The Covid-19 vaccine rollout is going slower than planned which is why experts predict that we still have a long wait ahead until everyone gets access to the vaccine. In many countries, health care workers such as doctors, nurses or lab technicians and nursing home residents and staff are the first in line for the vaccination, followed by essential workers who interact with the public, older adults and people with medical conditions.

Will the pandemic save Big Pharma's reputation?

One of the most shared headlines in 2019 was "American's Downgrade Pharmaceutical Industry." During that time, there was no business sector disliked in the US more than the pharmaceutical industry. This negative public perception was highlighted in a Gallup report from September 2019, naming high drug costs and the industry's role in the US opioid crises as a reason for Big Pharma's poor reputation among the public. However, thanks to the Coronavirus, pandemic life sciences and pharmaceutical companies have found themselves in the spotlight. Not only governments, but also the public are turning to them for vaccines and treatments. This is a great chance for life science companies to remind everyone of their initial purpose.

The importance of collaborations

The pandemic has also shown once again how important collaborations are in the pharmaceutical industry. The fact that the Covid-19 vaccines were developed and approved with fast-track procedures can be attributed to close collaboration between pharmaceutical companies and regulatory authorities. The early open dialogue between the entities involved, paved the way for vaccine development at a rapid pace and should be considered an example of what is possible.

The future of pharmaceutical production

Many pharmaceutical companies in Europe source their raw materials from Asia or even have their drugs produced there entirely. However, the days when drugs are produced more cheaply in Asia than in the home county could soon be over. During the pandemic it became particularly apparent how fragile supply chains are in the pharmaceutical industry and how dependent European countries are on Asia - Especially when it comes to the distribution of raw materials where restrictions and bottlenecks can jeopardize the supply chains. In many countries, some medicines were not available due to supply problems and delays caused by the measures taken to combat the pandemic. To respond to these challenges, pharmaceutical companies need to relocate the production of their drugs and no longer depend on just one country or region.

 

Further reading:

https://www.strategyand.pwc.com/uk/en/reports/strategy-where-next-for-pharma.pdf

https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/the-covid-19-vaccines-are-here-what-comes-next