How This Current Pandemic Changed The Pharmaceutical Industry

Updated on May 20, 2020
Test tubes in clinic, pharmacy and medical research laboratory with male scientist using pipette

It’s hard to miss the impact of the novel Coronavirus on global markets, especially the health industries. It took significant time for the World Health Organization to recognize COVID-19 as a pandemic. The first case of infection was traced to Wuhan, China, as 2019 closed. After only a couple of weeks, the largest quarantine in the history of humans took place. A lockdown was placed on the entire city, including the nearby areas. The virus has since spread to every continent. The number of cases and the death toll continue to rise until today.

Coronavirus, indeed, has caused steep inroads into the world’s economy by impacting almost every industry. The pandemic has wreaked havoc, and the pharmaceutical industry isn’t an exception to the list of COVID-19’s collateral damages. In this post, you’ll get an insight into how the current pandemic changed the pharmaceutical industry and how it can be improved.

1. Expanding Network Of Support

The dependence on a limited network of support has done real damage to the pharmaceutical industry because of the coronavirus pandemic. The pharmaceutical testing laboratories which were dependent on the Chinese providers for raw materials and components have been hit the hardest. Most of them left, unable to maintain day-to-day operations because of the supply chain getting cut out or restricted. Such a problem affects not only pharma companies but also the whole world in the face of a global pandemic. It means these manufacturers will struggle to deliver on the demands for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Expansion of the support network is a smart strategy being implemented by some pharmaceutical companies while the global health crisis is still going on and is expected to continue in a post-pandemic world. Researching and flagging other options or alternatives for mission-critical suppliers have been undertaken in the race to develop a cure that, once and for all, subdue the pandemic. To avoid a shortage, some have even started to maintain a well-stocked supply of different essentials for the manufacturing of medicines. Pharmaceutical companies can better withstand both long-term and short-term crises with minimized impact by keeping any potential supply shortage in mind.

2. Rising Cost Of Raw Materials And Drugs

According to the Food And Drug Administration (FDA), 13% of the generic and brand manufacturers are based out of China. Based on the same report, 31% of medical ingredients and 24% of medicines were imported from India as of 2018. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lockdown has been implemented in China, India, the United States, and other countries. It has further increased the chances of the cost of drugs and raw materials shooting up. Yes, even the cost of essential medicines might also increase globally, if the current situation worsens or continues to prolong.

Transfer medicine bottles on the conveyor belt in the pharmaceutical industry, industrial machinery for the quality of medical products. Industrial concept and factory technology.shallow focus effect.

3. Pharma Companies Will Go Local

As all the countries are now in quarantine, obtaining supplies from the pharma companies’ usual sources can really be a daunting task, if not impossible. International shipping has become more and more difficult, and the only solution is to go local. This may be an expensive option, but avoiding or at least having the possibility to move away from international trade in the pharmaceutical industry’s manufacturing process surely can prove valuable during a global crisis.

One thing is certain; pharma companies are now including a list of possible alternative suppliers in their emergency plan to prepare for the next crisis. For pharmaceutical companies, determining potential local suppliers who can still meet their needs in a pinch can be the difference between actually taking a hit and completely shutting down operations. 

4. Relaxation In Some FDA Policies Placed Over The Pharmaceutical Industry

The lockdown in many countries has forced the Food And Drug Administration to reconsider their policies. The impact of COVID-19 is undeniably massive, and the continuous demand for drugs opened the possibility of relaxing some policies in a few areas. This is especially applicable to the policies concerning:

  • The lengthy review process of generic and branded medicine. Minor changes have already been implemented due to demand and shortage.
  • Inspections on manufacturing plants overseas. The number has reduced. FDA needs to get all the help it needs to fight the virus, forcing them to omit one or two phases or procedures in the inspection process.

5. Improved Data And Analytics

The pharmaceutical industry has been using and analyzing data for years. The real challenge however lies in leveraging every piece of information’s full potential. The time taken to have a new drug launched is high. Along with it is the skyrocketing cost of drug and vaccine development. Pharmaceutical companies are now improving their data and analytics. Both new sets of data and a large amount of molecular and clinical data available throughout the years are being maximized in their predictive analysis efforts. Of course, improved and optimized data and analytics hastens the process of drug development and clinical trials. Upgraded infrastructure also plays a crucial role in the pharmaceutical industry’s fight against the global health crisis.


As the pandemic continues to develop and unfold, pharma companies must proactively face the challenges brought by scarce resources and growing demand. If there’s a positive change that COVID-19 has caused to the pharmaceutical industry as a whole, it’s their effort to improve their analysis and response to wipe the pandemic out and better prepare for the next crisis.

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