Pharma companies that don’t change during COVID-19 will be ‘new Kodaks of this world’

Janssen’s former clinical innovation VP Andreas Koester has warned that pharma companies that go back to how they were working before the COVID-19 crisis could soon find themselves irrelevant once the pandemic is over.

Speaking during eyeforpharma Barcelona, which is being held virtually because of the coronavirus outbreak, Koester gave his thoughts on how the industry will need to change its ways of working, including its clinical development processes, to adapt to the coronavirus outbreak.

He said there was “no way” of the industry going back to its old ways of doing business after the crisis.

“What we are also seeing is that those companies that have been better than others in implementing things like remote working and remote cooperation are now finding it easier to adjust to the new world of social distancing.”

He said that if he would expect one thing to come out of the crisis, it would be the “death of incrementalism”.

“Despite our efforts, our clinical development process is still so far behind what we could be able to do in the 21st century.

“As good as the innovation we have implemented in big pharma is, and as happy as we were to pat ourselves on the back about it, what we need, especially in a situation like this, is things like point of care randomisation, or the ability to test known drugs for their potential efficacy against new infectious diseases.

“We were not set up for that, and that is painfully clear now… all of us in the industry need to start to think right now about why companies are struggling with keeping their trials up and running, and what needs to change afterwards.”

Koester added: “Leaders in big pharma need to see this as an opportunity to dramatically turn things around – to get rid of the incrementalism and think about an approach that was previously unthinkable.

“Those companies that have the leadership in place to do that, and to empower their employees to do it, will be those that come out of this crisis successful.

“Those who think the pendulum will swing back and we’ll somehow go back to the way of doing things pre-January 2020 will be the new Kodaks of this world.”

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