How did the pandemic affect the pharmaceutical industry?

Mailen Agüero – Business Development Analyst
Francisco Stefano – Director

With the appearance of this new disease, in 2019/2020, the pharmaceutical industry is strongly affected.

The idea that intense pressures on social and economic factors, caused by singular events, can be triggering agents of innovative technological processes is generally accepted. In March 2020, the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic. The disease spread throughout the world, affecting millions of people, causing nearly 6 million deaths (as of February 20, 2022).

This pandemic has caused important effects in social and economic life, producing important impacts in different industries. The health sector carried the main burden of having to respond quickly to an unknown enemy. The response has been swift, in five months since the appearance of Covid, 38 clinical trials of possible therapeutics have begun.


One of the most obvious effects of the pandemic on the pharmaceutical industry has been the redistribution of its resources to increase the production capacity of critical medicines for patients suffering from the disease and promote the search for new treatments and vaccines against it. The success achieved in the field of vaccines has made it possible to mitigate the severity of the crisis and promise a near overcoming of it.


Among the sectors of the pharmaceutical industry that suffered the most damage, we can highlight:


  • Development of clinical studies. It is estimated that around 6000 studies are in different stages of development and it is considered that many of them are affected, quarantine periods, diversion of medical attention, hospital saturation, etc. are factors that lead to the delay or stoppage of studies.
  • Alteration of the supply chain. This sector has been the hardest hit in the beginning. The concentrated production of basic raw materials in certain countries threatened to limit the global supply when the producing countries suggested or decreed temporary restrictions on their export (in the case of India and China). This has led the industry to consider the usefulness of promoting the emergence of suppliers and expanding the supply network.


In an Evaluate report entitled ‘Covid-19 Report’, he points to other secondary effects that the pandemic brought to the sector, in relation to research projects on diseases that, as a consequence of the pandemic, have come to occupy a less prominent place in the pyramid of needs and some companies decided to delay the start of trials that were planned. With the confined population, and the call not to go to hospitals, the logistics to carry out the trials have become impossible, the recruitment of patients in studies that were already underway was also paused. All this to avoid putting patients at risk.


Beyond that, the research projects in the most advanced phases are the ones that present the greatest economic losses, they represent years of research and a large sum of money invested.

The impact of these slowdowns on non-Covid-19 research affected companies in the sector unevenly. And it is that the big companies have more capacity to overcome these challenges, the smaller firms have many difficulties since the delays imply incurring an escalation of costs and in a long wait until obtaining sales.

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