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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: December 09, 2020

An eventful year in pharma

“C&EN’s Year of Pharma 2020”
Chemical & Engineering News

As 2020 draws to a close, the global pandemic has cast an even brighter spotlight on the pharmaceutical industry. Experts have spent the year racing to develop tests, therapeutics and vaccines to diagnose and combat COVID-19, while also trying to innovate in other areas. A cover story in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, highlights how pharma helped shape a tumultuous year.

As the novel coronavirus spread across the world, pharmaceutical companies pushed drug development timelines to their limits, Executive Editor Lisa M. Jarvis writes. Eli Lilly and Regeneron led the way in making antibody therapies that target the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, with both companies receiving emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November. Other groups, like Moderna, used messenger RNA to develop a potential COVID-19 vaccine, with early trial data showing promising results. In addition, America’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, M.D., became one of 2020’s most prominent figures, invoking both admiration and ire from the public. 

Beyond the pandemic, the pharma industry was highly active in other areas. A slew of biotech start-ups emerged despite the difficult business circumstances, including firms focused on tackling coronaviruses, brain diseases, small molecule therapies and more. Smaller pharma companies led the way in drug approvals, and although fewer in number, pharma mergers and acquisitions were robust, with oncology assets demanding top dollar. More biotech companies went public in 2020 than in 2019, with healthcare investment at an all-time high. Response to the pandemic also highlighted the key role service firms play in manufacturing drugs and vaccines. In this “year of pharma,” nothing has been normal, but the industry has risen to its monumental task in record time. 

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