As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact patients, healthcare systems, and global economic outlooks, we focus on the key considerations and strategies for pharma companies when the data generation for possible therapies is becoming increasingly complex to analyze.
Please note: COVID-19’s impact on pharma is continually evolving. All insights expressed here were formulated based on the situation as of May 26, 2020.
COVID-19 – tracking the fast-moving landscape
There are several COVID-19 treatment and vaccine databases containing an aggregation of publicly-available information from validated sources detailing treatments and vaccines currently in development.
The scale and diversity of treatment and vaccine candidates investigated for COVID-19 is unprecedented, as is the speed at which we see changes in the investigational approaches. The changes implemented in terms of adaptive trial design, integration of technologies and accelerated timelines is very likely to impact our approach to clinical development beyond the pandemic.
When assessing possible COVID-19 treatment candidates we need to identify the relevant data to collect…
But there is no one true source of global COVID statistics
Two crucial dimensions of data quality are timeliness and accuracy – however there is no one true source of global COVID-19 statistics. We have access to multiple information streams which are often contradictory in nature.
Cross verification from multiple sources tests the consistency of our findings
The challenge is navigating the complexity of multiple information streams, few of which are directly comparable, in order to identify relevant data and triangulate information until we have confidence in its accuracy.
Once we have confidence our data is relevant and accurate we need to ensure we draw meaningful conclusions
Top 12 COVID-19 treatments ranked by number of clinical trials compared to the number of patients
Licensed v experimental COVID-19 treatments – comparing the number of trials and patients
Number of patients
Number of trials
Identifying the data that drives a difference
The proportion of infectious disease drugs making it through from phase 1 trials to approval is estimated to be just 20%.¹ This global need for a ‘multiple shots on goal’ approach is reflected in both the large COVID-19 treatment trial and patient numbers. There is a clear and pragmatic focus on repurposing approved or well-characterized drugs. An opportunity exists for successful industry players to expand drug labels, and crucially, for the treatment community to accelerate clinical availability.
After reviewing the global setting for ongoing COVID-19 clinical trials, it is clear the trial density is greatest in areas most affected by COVID-19 and with strong, established CT infrastructure in place.
However, as COVID-19 spreads across the globe, we continue to see fewer trials taking place or being planned in Africa, south and southeast Asia, and central and south America. Given the seemingly important genetic component to the impact of the disease, this could result in asymmetry in population-level knowledge. How this might impact future market access realities in these regions remains to be seen. Due to the imperative for a globalized approach to the pandemic, we hypothesize that as was the case with HIV and malaria, differential pricing will quickly evolve. However, the clear disparity in data generation across the globe highlights just how crucial knowledge sharing, production scalability, and global access will be in allowing low-income populations rapid access to future COVID-19 therapies. Successfully emerging from this pandemic will rely on global, not just local, containment.