The fallout from the unprecedented global spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) is only starting to be felt in the life science sector – and without a quick resolution to the crisis, headwinds into the second and third quarters, and beyond, are likely to be significant. The following are four key areas where we feel there will be downstream pressures for our industry – issues that will need thoughtful contingency planning from both an operational and communications perspective.
#1. Funding Challenges
With the economy and markets now solidly in bear market territory, funding and liquidity is increasingly top-of-mind with both up-and-coming biotechs and established players. Stock market woes are making money tight, and the traditional channels for telling an investible story to VCs and institutions are grinding to a halt, with the domino effect of industry conference cancellations and postponements. At the same time, company travel restrictions and work-from-home mandates are making roadshows untenable. In this new landscape, companies that are able to pivot to new ways of telling their story without losing impact (e.g., virtual presentations and investor outreach) will come out ahead. Here is an example of a corporate video update.
#2. Regulatory & Commercialization Delays
The health system’s overwhelming focus on addressing the coronavirus pandemic and capacity strains put on medical professionals, hospitals, and health systems could result in delays in the completion of clinical trials, not to mention clinical trial recruitment. Focus on combatting the pandemic will also limit key FDA interactions for many companies (AdCom meetings, inspections, etc.) and missed milestones and delays in regulatory approvals will result in development timelines being pushed out. It’s important to get in front of these disruptions and communicate clearly to your key stakeholder audiences.
#3. Manufacturing & Supply Chain Disruptions
A lopsided portion of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used in drug manufacturing and components in medtech products and devices are now contracted with China and other Asian countries hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Manufacturing and supply chain disruptions are a very real threat to our industry and have to be addressed clearly to instill confidence.
#4. Cancellation of Medical Meetings
Just as industry and investor conferences are being canceled and postponed, so are medical meetings. These meetings are crucial as venues to unveil new data and clinical results, which in turn serves as a launching pad to publication in influential peer-reviewed journals. In the absence of these meetings, it will be incumbent upon companies to develop alternative and compelling virtual or digital means to present their data. While peer-reviewed publications may expedite the review and publication process, presenting data digitally that can be shared through various channels is also an important consideration. For example, a virtual oral presentation.
Here at LaVoieHealthScience, we understand the issues and the challenges that life science innovators will face in the coming months and can help you develop proactive communications strategies to mitigate the inevitable disruptions that lie ahead. Let us help you navigate these turbulent waters. Contact Douglas Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org