Pharmaceutical industry professionals around the world believe that employee safety and supply chain disruption are their businesses’ top concerns from Covid-19, according to the latest GlobalData survey.

GlobalData’s latest report, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Sector Impact: Pharmaceutical Trade and Supply Chain Survey – Q1 2020, reveals that 21% of global respondents believe that employee safety will be the biggest impact of Covid-19 on their companies. A total of 20% cite the pandemic’s impact on supply chains as their biggest worry.

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The risk of employees catching the disease at work has contributed to concerns about employee safety. Shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) worldwide are affecting clinical workers, and safety measures during the pandemic make it difficult to move employees between sites. Furthermore, training new, highly skilled employees to replace quarantined workers brings a high cost.

The industry’s other major concerns were clinical trial disruption (cited as the main concern by 16% of respondents), business development (10%), and contract research organization (CRO) disruptions (10%).

The survey revealed differences in business priorities between company types. Concerns about sales representatives’ access to physicians and business development were understandably highest among companies with marketed drugs. These companies need to continue selling their therapies to maintain revenue.

By contrast, companies with drugs in the pipeline but not yet on the market are still in research and development mode, so they expressed more concern with clinical trial disruption, contract research organisation (CRO) disruptions, and money-raising. Because these pipeline-only companies are not yet profitable, they are dependent for money on their ability to raise capital.

Since the first case was diagnosed in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, Covid-19 cases have continued to rise rapidly across the globe. Extreme interventions have been necessary to contain the spread of the virus, resulting in temporary disruption to pharmaceutical supply chains in some regions.

Across all company types and regions, 92% of those surveyed say Covid-19 poses a risk to their companies’ imports / exports.

A total of 136 pharma company staff from around the world, including C-level executives, participated in the survey, which was fielded from 13 March 2020 to 24 March 2020.