Pharma R&D Activity Surges Even Without COVID-19, Says IQVIA Report


Despite significant disruption and reprioritization of clinical trial activity during 2020 due to COVID-19, R&D activity levels remained at historically high levels, driven by new funding and strategic transactions, especially within oncology, according to a new research report Global Trends in R&D: Overview Through 2020 released by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science.

Key highlights of the report include:

  • Clinical Development Productivity: This area increased slightly in 2020 but remains at historically low levels because of rising trial durations, complexity of disease targets and their associated trial protocol designs, and declining success rates. Efforts across the industry to increase productivity by expanding the use of data- and evidence-based approaches to improve trial design and speed execution are expected to yield improvements over time.
  • R&D Pipeline: Growth in the late-stage pipeline continued in 2020, bringing total expansion to 43 percent since 2015–oncology drugs reached record high numbers. Growth in the early-stage pipeline–including next-generation biotherapeutics—paused in 2020.
  • R&D Funding & Strategic Transactions: Funding for early- and late-stage R&D increased significantly in 2020, unaffected by the disruptions of COVID-19 and reflecting a strong focus on innovative pathways and approaches to discover and develop novel therapeutics, and strategic transactions. These range from M&A through licensing and other forms of collaboration, often between large and small companies, and they proceeded at typical levels.
  • New Drug Approvals & Launches: Sustained investment and efforts to discover and develop innovative medicines by small and large companies yielded a record 66 new drugs globally with success in oncology and treatments for rare diseases in addition to COVID-19 vaccines.

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