Accelerated Drug Development Post Pandemic: The Advent of Change

In the wake of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, the global healthcare industry has undergone a transformative shift in drug development practices. The challenges posed by the pandemic propelled the industry to accelerate innovation and adopt new approaches to bring life-saving drugs to market faster than ever before.

Sasidhar Duggineni, a distinguished researcher and experienced professional in clinical trials and pharmaceutical industry, lets us in on the developments and changes that the Covid-19 pandemic inflicted upon the healthcare industry, while highlighting how the development of drugs during Covid-19 is a benchmark in the industry.

“The pandemic has warranted an improvised and swift process to facilitate rapid development of vaccines and drug discovery for the treatment and prevention of newer infections and diseases”, Sasidhar shared.

Sasidhar has made pioneering contributions to the field of data integrity in clinical trial and life science industries through introduction of novel data integrity frameworks, serving on reputed scientific research editorial boards, and working on delivery of critical vaccines and drugs into the market.

Drug development being a tenuous process usually takes years and even decades at times. The process of development begins from the identification of a threat and takes multiple years to be developed and approved meanwhile leaving the population at possible risk.

With the world racing against time to combat the virus, pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, and regulatory bodies collaborated on an unprecedented scale. “For the first time in history 3 vaccines were developed and approved for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) within such a short time span (during the pandemic). The shortest recorded time period for developing a vaccine until covid, was four years for the mumps virus vaccine”, Sasidhar highlighted.

He noted that one major change in drug development is the accelerated adoption of technology and data-driven approaches. Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics to expedite the drug discovery process. By utilizing virtual screening and computer simulations, scientists can rapidly evaluate and prioritize molecules, reducing the time and cost involved in preclinical research, explained Sasidhar.

During the crisis, many initiatives were taken up by several governments enabling the industry to work at a radically fast pace. Duggineni shared that the lesson learned from the success of ‘Operation Warp Speed’ (OWS) is a resounding proof that OWS can be applicable to other big domains like cancer cures, opioid crisis, neurologic disorders, and other qualifying public health crisis situations as well.

He further shed light on how regulatory agencies have adapted to the evolving landscape by implementing flexible and expedited approval processes. “Regulatory bodies have embraced fast-track procedures, streamlined review timelines, and enhanced communication with drug developers”, he told us.

This agile regulatory environment has served to reduce bureaucratic hurdles and enabled quicker access to innovative therapies without compromising safety and efficacy standards.

Today, companies are planning their budgets and operations according to trends and goals of speedy drug delivery. Supply chains and facilities are being redesigned to accommodate accelerated drug development goals. These innovative approaches to drug development are sustainable if industries can adapt accordingly.

“By moving away from outdated checks and balances, we can use novel delivery strategies to bend the time curve of drug delivery. This should and will be the only way forward.” Sasidhar conclusively added.

With Covid-19 vaccine strategy and process being the milestone in the pharmaceutical and drug development world, the accelerated process continues to cater to a domain beyond the pandemic.

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