4 Ways COVID-19 is Impacting the Life Sciences Industry

The COVID-19 global pandemic has had very significant and tangible impacts on the life sciences industry, especially for medical devices and pharmaceuticals. From disruptions in supply chains to rapid shifts in market demands, organizations dedicated to improving life have found themselves facing new, unprecedented challenges in their operations. Here are four of those challenges and how industry leaders are responding.



4 Impacts of a Global Pandemic on the Life Sciences Industry


Even as the global pandemic touches every aspect of our lives, some of the most visible impacts have occurred in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries. Four noticeable new challenges include:

1. Supply Chain Disruptions and the Rise of New Sources

China has long represented the backbone of many pharmaceutical supply chains, particularly for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The COVID-19 outbreak inspired a widespread reconsideration of that role as vast swathes of the Chinese economy shut down to mitigate the virus’s spread. 

In February 2020, the FDA advised 180 companies to evaluate their supply chains and notify the government of any potential supply shortage. Just weeks later, the European Medicines Agency drafted a strategy in anticipation of supply chain disruptions and acute ingredient scarcities.

In the meantime, both governments and organizations have sought alternative sources for the most critical APIs. In particular, India has positioned itself to become the next major source of pharmaceutical ingredients for the west.


2. Rapid Shifts in Market Demands

Over the past two months, the pharmaceutical industry has seen massive shifts in demand towards antivirals and drugs capable of treating COVID-19. The media focus around hydroxychloroquine, for example, has made it more difficult for manufacturers to keep pace with demand while ensuring that patients who take it for other conditions can still access it

Moreover, even companies outside the life sciences industry are shifting their production towards medical supplies like masks and gowns.


3. Distribution Challenges

In the United States, it takes an average of 12 years for an experimental drug to move from the laboratory to the market. Although the FDA has launched a special initiative to expedite the research and development of drugs to fight COVID-19, tight restrictions on medical devices like masks have also hampered access and distribution.

However, drugs already in trials have also been impacted. In March 2020, Gilead Sciences had to temporarily stop distributing its experimental drug; remdesivir, which combats general viruses, on the grounds of “compassionate use” due to overwhelming demand. The drug is still in clinical trials, with results not expected until late April.


4. Increased Talent Demands

The sudden market shifts and need to scale rapidly in specific directions have led to the widespread demand for trained professionals in the life sciences industry. In March, COVID-19-related job postings spiked. At the top of the list included registered nurses and numerous jobs in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.

To meet these immediate needs, some organizations are sending healthcare personnel to pandemic epicenters such as New York. Many other organizations are turning to staffing agencies that specialize in supplying talent for the life sciences industry.


Top 10 Pharmaceutical and Life Science Occupations


  1. Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists
  2. Chemists
  3. Quality Control Analysts
  4. Biological Technicians
  5. Biochemists and Biophysicists
  6. Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health
  7. Microbiologists
  8. Epidemiologists
  9. Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, Including Health
  10. Chemical Technicians


How Experis Supports the Life Sciences Industry


Access to the right resources is more important than ever, especially for those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak. Experis supports the medical device, pharmaceutical and life sciences industries by offering an array of solutions to meet any challenge they may face. Whether reducing costs, increasing efficiency, or managing the rapidly changing demands of the market, we’re here to support you with innovative, effective solutions.


Contact us now to discuss how Experis can help support your mission.


Author: Chip Thomas