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The World Health Organization has come under fire for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with critics such as US President Donald Trump quick to claim that the organisation had failed to react fast enough to prevent the virus from spreading. We look back at the history of the organisation to find out how its reaction to Covid-19 compares to previous health emergencies.

Also, we find out more about the RECOVERY trial – a colossal undertaking in the UK that aims to assess the anti-coronavirus efficacy of a number of existing treatments, examine what is needed to salvage the clinical trials disrupted by Covid-19, and, as treatment options beginning to emerge for this novel coronavirus, we investigate what this unique situation means for intellectual property as governments waive common patent protections in pursuit of a cure.

Plus, we examine whether drug manufacturers can keep up with the evolution of seasonal allergies, round up key developments in biologic drugs, explore the difficulties of breaking through the blood brain barrier, and review the highs and lows of immunotherapy.


In this issue

Charting the ups and downs of the World Health Organization
Central to the world’s response to this deadly novel coronavirus has been the UN’s WHO, which has, for better or worse, provided leadership to governments grappling with local epidemics. Allie Nawrat reflects on the 70-year history of the organisation, focusing on its successes and failures in dealing with public health threats.
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Road to RECOVERY: a deep dive into the world’s largest Covid-19 drug trial
The University of Oxford-led RECOVERY trial is the world’s largest clinical trial, with more than 10,000 patients recruited across the UK. The wide-ranging trial aims to assess the anti-Covid-19 efficacy of six treatments, with more to be added as their promise emerges. Allie Nawrat speaks to the researchers behind the trial to find out more.
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Salvaging clinical trials in the time of Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the clinical trials landscape. A core way the pharma industry is adapting to this disruption is by leveraging technologies to allow the conduct of virtualised clinical trials. Allie Nawrat explores the success of these techniques and whether Covid-19 could make clinical trials more resilient for a post-pandemic future.
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Intellectual property in the time of Covid-19
Governments have been waiving common Intellectual Property laws in pursuit of a treatment for Covid-19, overriding patent protections and allowing sales of generic drugs. This is a concerning move for pharma companies struggling to navigate unclear rules, but could it change the R&D landscape forever? Abi Millar fins out more about IP during the Covid-19 crisis.
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A plight for sore eyes: The latest developments in seasonal allergy treatment
Most of us can’t wait for summer, but it’s a tricky time for those with seasonal allergies such as hay fever. Natalie Healey examines the challenges facing drug development in this area and which approaches may hold value in the future.
Read the article here.

How research groups are tackling the problem of biologic drug delivery 
Many of today’s blockbuster drugs are delivered via injection, which can be expensive and inconvenient, as well as posing compliance challenges. The race is on to develop an oral delivery method for biologics, eliminating the need for injections. Abi Millar looks at research groups trying to solve this challenge and others.
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Breaking the blood-brain barrier: neurology’s greatest challenge
The blood-brain barrier protects the brain from dangerous pathogens and toxins but is notoriously difficult to penetrate with medications. Chloe Kent finds out more about the difficulties of overcoming this medical hurdle and the many research projects taking on the challenge.
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Charting the history of immunotherapy, cancer treatments fourth pillar
Cancer treatment has been traditionally characterised by surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. In the late 20th century, however, a fourth element entered the mainstream: immunotherapies. Allie Nawrat looks back at the impressive history of immunotherapies and ongoing efforts to make them even more effective.
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Creating a sure data footing for ai 
The transformation potential of smart IT systems and process automation relies on the quality and completeness of the underlying data being drawn from across the organisation. Here, Steve Gens of Gens & Associates and Remco Munnik of Iperion Life Sciences Consultancy offer five best-practice tips for achieving and maintaining consistent enterprise-wide product data that can be trusted to drive AI-enabled innovation.
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Next issue preview

In the next issue of Pharma Technology Focus, out in August, we round up some of the most significant developments to come out of Genomics England since its inception in 2013, and as countries around the world prepare to face the financial impact of Covid-19 lockdowns, we examine what pharma companies can learn from previous economic crises.

Also, we explore the real-world logistics of supplying Covid-19 treatments to patients around the world, speak to the team behind Innovative Trials to find out how participants are recruited and managd in clinical trials, and learn about a so-called ‘master key’ antibiotic, which is making waves for its potential in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

Plus, we assess the current state of the autism treatment pipeline to find out why companies are abandoning potential drug candidates, explore the potential of crystal chemistry in drug development, and investigate the science behind the use of psychedelic mushrooms in mental health treatments.