COVID-19; how insurance can help in the medical fight against the pandemic
In the fight against COVID-19, the search for a vaccine is a major international effort. In addition to trying to find a vaccine for the virus, drug companies also are working to find medical treatments that could alleviate some of the symptoms of the virus and help patients to recover faster and better.
Behind the scenes, underwriters and risk engineers are involved in this effort too. We have brought our risk expertise to discussions with clients that are exploring potential vaccines and treatments or looking at adapting existing medicines to address some of the effects of COVID-19.
There is an obvious human importance to finding ways to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. And the financial risks and rewards for pharmaceutical companies are significant.
The development and marketing of new drugs is big business. For pharmaceutical companies, developing drugs takes a massive investment of both time and money. Industry experts say that it costs about $800 million to bring a new drug to market. And according to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, in the U.S. this figure
is even higher at an estimated $2.6 billion.
As well as being a large financial investment, developing a new drug is a lengthy process. It takes an average of 12 years for an experimental drug to make it from the laboratory into homes in the US, for example.
Clinical trials and how they work
Clinical trials are a vital step in bringing a new drug to market. Testing on humans before a drug reaches the shelves can drastically reduce the risks involved. But, by their very nature, trials themselves are not without risk.
Clinical trials are observations of the effects of drugs on human participants that are designed to answer specific questions about their safety and efficacy.
Trials are conducted after the go-ahead is given by health authorities or ethics committees in the country where approval for the drug is being sought. Individual countries have many such ethics committees; for example, in France there are 39 research ethics committees, in Germany 53 and in the UK more than 100.