Express Pharma

 HR and legal practices in the post-pandemic era

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to re-look their strategies as they prepare for the new normal. One of the learnings is that pharma companies will have to re-look their HR and legal practices, balancing employee safety and well-being with performance

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India is now in the third position in terms of cases of infection by the SARS-CoV2 virus, with the US and Brazil in the top two positions. The country has the fifth-highest number of deaths due to COVID-19, as per the COVID-19 dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

However, the COVID-19 cloud is not without a silver lining. As per Ministry of Health & Family Welfare data, as of August 8, 68.32 per cent of COVID-19 patients in India (1427005) were discharged/recovered while 2.04 per cent (42518) died due to the pandemic.

This relatively low death rate is thanks to the availability of repurposed medicines. Thanks to manufacturing collaborations within the pharma and vaccines sector, patients’ lives have been saved using repurposed medicines. And hopefully, with more than 160 vaccines at various stages of research globally, including six which have advanced into stage 3 trials, there is hope that one day, we might be able to protect our populations from the SARS-CoV2 virus.

As the sector supplying the ammunition to fight the virus, the pharma sector in India, like its global counterparts, could not shut down. And thus bore the brunt when a national lockdown was announced in March, followed by an exodus of migrant labour back to their villages.

This exodus hit some companies harder than most as they were expanding production, to diversify their supply chains of key starting materials (KSMs) and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The border tensions with China further underline the need to hasten rather than postpone these measures, even though the supply of APIs from China have now resumed, with prices too moderating to more reasonable levels.

But one of the learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic and the simmering border tensions is that pharma companies will have to re-look their HR policies.