COVID Hasn’t Deterred Biotech and Pharmaceutical R&D

Pharmaceutical-R&D
Doctor or lab technician adjusting needle to fertilize a human egg under the microscope

Where so many other industries faltered during the COVID pandemic, biotech and pharmaceuticals did not. By and large, they kept going full speed ahead. So much so that data recently revealed by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science suggests research and development (R&D) has actually accelerated over the last two years.

On the one hand, you might expect accelerated R&D as a result of companies developing new COVID therapies. Those therapies aside, the entire life sciences industry continued moving forward. The pandemic did not slow down research into new therapies, clinical trials, and biotech investments.

More Clinical Trials

When R&D leads to a new therapy with enough promise, attention shifts to clinical trials. According to the data, Phase I clinical trial starts increased by 14% in 2021, after a slight decline in the previous year. However, when combining all three phases of clinical trials, the data shows sharp increases in 2020 and 2021.

This is obviously good news. Clinical trials are the backbone of bringing new therapies to market. In the pharmaceutical world, clinical trials are everything. They separate R&D from those new therapies that actually make it to market. And the more clinical trials a company conducts, the more products it tends to eventually release.

More Financial Investment

While pharmaceutical companies were busy conducting more clinical trials, investors were looking for new opportunities. According to the data, more than 2,000 deals took place in 2021. They combined to represent $45 billion in financial investments. All that money went into R&D.

Furthermore, more than a dozen of the largest pharmaceutical companies invested some $133 billion in their own R&D – on top of new investments – representing an increase of more than 40% since 2016. That is a lot of money going into developing new drugs, therapies, and treatments.

Opportunities for Job Seekers

Increased investment and R&D point to a stronger market for the biotech and pharma industries. And where there is a strong market, there is always the potential for significant job growth. A cursory review of Pharma Diversity, a pharmaceutical job board, certainly attests to that. The site lists thousands of job postings from companies all over the world. And it is not alone.

All sorts of biotech and pharmaceutical job boards list posts covering just about every conceivable career in life sciences. From entry-level positions to jobs requiring the most advanced degrees, there is something for everyone. The pandemic has not slowed innovation, growth, or hiring.

If anything, COVID has generated a greater urgency to push R&D even further. The pandemic made us all painfully aware of just how fragile human life is. We need all the R&D we can get to prepare us for the next global health crisis. Biotech and pharmaceutical R&D must be given priority moving forward.

The Future of Life Sciences

As a whole, life sciences has done very well over the last two years. Will that continue? It probably will for the short term. It may not in the long term. History has a way of repeating itself, and both biotech and pharmaceuticals tend to ride waves. They see steady growth for a while, then drop off. And of course, individual companies come and go pretty rapidly. There is no way to know what the industry will look like in five years.

For now, though, we can confidently say that the COVID pandemic hasn’t dampened biotech and pharmaceuticals. It certainly hasn’t slowed down R&D or discouraged investors from taking on new projects. If anything, the pandemic motivated investors and industry leaders to keep pressing forward in the search for new drugs and therapies.