The post-COVID face of pharma research and development
The acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic not only brought delays, restrictions, and reconfigurations to pharmaceutical research & development in 2020, but also a more flexible response to some long-standing issues with the clinical trials process.
Lockdown rules and safety protocols certainly made it harder for patients to travel to trial sites, while a refocusing of clinical personnel to COVID projects slowed work that wasn’t dedicated to the novel coronavirus.
At the same time, pharmaceutical research has very robust structures in place to guide and protect patient safety and those were adhered to, so the impact of the pandemic – at least in R&D – was more at the level of individual circumstances requiring a response.
For Dr Anna Christina Hoerster, director of clinical operations (Europe) at Advanced Clinical, the changes could best be characterised as a series of “very small things, which really did matter” in terms of the bigger picture of a project.
“The challenge posed by COVID was a trigger for pharmaceutical companies to think outside of the box. We have these very strict rules and models for conducting clinical research, and now the industry was challenged to adapt faster. I believe all these adaptions would have come in the future, but they would have taken longer,” she says.