Impact of COVID-19 on Pharma Cold Chain

Impact of COVID-19 on Pharma Cold Chain

July 20, 2020 Gubba Group

The first quarter of 2020 saw the disruption of many industries’ supply chains in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pharmaceutical sector was no exception to this rule, with the manufacturing and distribution of essential medicines severely impacted due to the varying availability of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs). Let us take a look at how the pharmaceutical industry is responding to COVID-19 and aims to cover the long-term impact of this pandemic on global pharmaceutical supply chains.

Supply Chain and Testing Woes
Several companies rely on exports from China and India to keep up with the demand for medicines globally. According to the United States FDA, China and India are home to approximately 31% of the world’s API manufacturing plants. However, both regions entered extended periods of lockdown in January and March, respectively, to flatten the curve. Besides factory closures, India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s temporary export restrictions also led to a perceptible drop in medicine production in Western countries. As a result of these shortages, demand for all kinds of medicines has skyrocketed in consumer space and research and development circles. Consequently, clinical trials and long-term studies of drugs used to treat conditions such as type-2 diabetes have been paused temporarily, at least until APIs are available once again.

Many pharmaceutical companies have stepped up their philanthropic efforts to deliver medicines to those that need it most. Even without resorting to questionable practices such as profiteering, companies in the space perform exceptionally well from a financial standpoint. Finally, in light of supply and raw material setbacks, pharmaceutical companies and researchers are also finding new ways to continue research, trials, and manufacturing.

Shifting Production to the West
The manufacturing sector is split on the subject of moving production away from South-East Asia. While large firms with existing arrangements with API suppliers in China and India are slowly returning to normalcy, VC money-backed startups are focused on sourcing raw materials domestically in the United States and Europe to avoid geopolitical risks supply chain disruptions. Some Western regulators seem to be fond of the domestic sourcing approach as well. 

Embracing Technology
Meanwhile, the medical community has shifted to performing virtual trials in some cases, where doctors and researchers communicate and collaborate with patients and test subjects remotely.

Other innovations in the pharmaceutical industry are being spearheaded by early-stage startups looking to transform existing processes into technology-assisted agile methods. The COVID-19 pandemic could motivate a significant chunk of the research community to conduct similar virtual trials and improve capacity.

The potential to continue embracing domestic production and technology-assisted trials rely entirely on these startups’ ability to spot and secure funding, partnerships, and acquisition opportunities. As a result, in many cases, promising ventures cannot keep pace with demand due to inadequate funding or proper guidance from more experienced companies. 

In keeping up with the strain that COVID-19 has placed on the healthcare system, pharmaceutical companies have an unprecedented opportunity to play a significant role in fighting the virus. The industry has a long road ahead in terms of R&D, testing, trials, and even the potential development of a vaccine. Ultimately though, the world will always remember the industry’s contribution towards defusing the pandemic of 2020. We at Gubba understand the vitality of pharma and biological drug preservation and hence ensure product integrity conditions for your drugs. Gubba Pharma Cold Storage is a research-based company with a robust refrigeration system and technology and supports you in nullifying your losses due to product compromise from temperature fluctuations.

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