COVID-19 has united the general public, healthcare providers, governments, and industry around the goal of beating the virus.
The world slowly begins to recover. Yet, global leaders will have to answer key questions. Could this have been prevented, should a treatment have been found sooner, and were there better ways to limit the spread of disease?
Research and innovation from the pharmaceutical industry will play a key role in these conversations. The pharmaceutical industry has historically faced distrust from the general public due to ongoing pricing debates and the opioid crisis. But can we continue to afford to undermine innovation in the wake of a global pandemic?
The current political environment, triggered by the industry’s negative perception, has targeted intellectual property incentives and undermined innovation in the pharmaceutical industry in recent years.
Now, the same society that spent years criticizing innovation as profit seeking behavior is now dependent on innovation to fight this global pandemic.
For society to recover, we need diagnostics, treatment, and most importantly — we need a vaccine. We need an environment that empowers industry to provide these solutions, and not just in times of global crisis.
This debate around innovation in the context of a pandemic raises a more important question for the future. Can innovation be turned on and off by demand, or should we continually work to foster a stronger culture of research and innovation to protect our citizens?
COVID-19 has demonstrated the clearest value of innovation to society. In a global pandemic, everyone’s health and livelihoods are at risk. Europe must provide an environment where science and innovation can thrive. The industry will now have to prove its value to society and better engage in the research and innovation debate.