Redesigning the pharmaceutical R&D landscape for the post-COVID-19 economy


We examine the circumstances under which the blueprint of a coronavirus-type vaccine failed to be developed before the outbreak of the crisis. The examination of such a missed opportunity and the potential institutional framework under which a repetition could be avoided should deliver insights on the more general question of the financing of costly medications for rare conditions. Providing the right incentives and subsidies to pharmaceutical firms to invest in vaccines, drugs and diagnostics is essential both in normal, pre-pandemic times, and in the current situation. 

We propose to develop a taxonomy of pharmaceutical firms and identify those that are more likely to engage – as well as those more likely to succeed – in the creation of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics for COVID-19. Assessing the distribution of research efforts between small firms, large firms and universities can provide important – and urgently needed – insights into the design of policies to incentivize and support pharmaceutical innovation to fight against COVID-19 and other diseases.


Annamaria Conti


Goutam Challagalla


Dominique Foray
Patrick Gaulé