As we adjust to life under COVID-19, I wonder if things will ever be the same again. From my new home office in the dining room, a world that once seemed so small – just a day’s flight from one end of the globe to another – now seems out of reach. The impact of the pandemic on clinical trials across the world is also tremendous. Because clinical trials have traditionally been built on face-to-face visits, many of their aspects still rely on monitors’ onsite observations.

So where does the biopharma industry go from here?

Changing the Status Quo

In light of the global pandemic, with time of the essence, we must reconsider the current paradigm of drug development, clinical trials and regulatory approvals. The traditional process is no longer viable; it’s crucial to find an alternative to our current dependency on face-to-face reviews and meetings.

Necessity often is the mother of invention. In the case of clinical trials, necessity may be the mother of adoption – the accelerated adoption of technologies that can fill the gaps left by the virus and support business continuity. The transformation of the life sciences industry, often a digital laggard relative to other industries, is now an imperative. We must leverage modern digital sciences and technologies to accelerate development of new therapies, while also enabling the earliest possible patient access to potentially life-saving new treatments.

Along with new technologies, the industry is also embracing new opportunities for collaboration. An example of this is The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, the recently formed partnership of 15 of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Wellcome Trust and Mastercard. 

A cooperative model such as Cognizant’s Shared Investigator Platform (SIP), launched in 2016 to unite sponsors and clinical researchers with harmonized workflows and document exchange, can offer a guide as the industry urgently comes together to get COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics to market as fast as possible.

Excelling in the New Normal

Dealing with a crisis of the magnitude and velocity of COVID-19 demands that we ask challenging questions. Are prevailing industry processes and regulations – largely unchanged for decades – agile enough to deal with accelerating global pandemics? What aspects of drug development and regulatory approval need to be revisited?

In moving the industry to the new normal, it is imperative to understand all the available tools, technologies and partnerships that we can leverage to propel us through this crisis. Today, SIP connects more than 65,000 clinical researchers globally with seven of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies and 30,000 clinical trial team members. The SIP team is working with sponsors that are developing COVID-19 treatments and vaccines to accelerate access to the platform’s community of clinical researchers.

While we can’t rely on the old way of doing things, modern solutions will empower us to collaborate and react quickly on a global scale, balancing the critical needs of individual patients with the need to collect data. Although COVID-19 is driving a “new normal,” together we can turn that disruption into a change for the better.

Visit our COVID-19 resources page for additional insights and updates.

Larissa Comis

Larissa Comis

Larissa Comis is the Product Lead for the Cognizant Shared Investigator Platform (SIP). She is a clinical trial technology expert with nearly... Read more