Can the latest COVID-19 Trends Give a Glimpse Into the New Normal?

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly disrupted the healthcare industry... from how we met with our doctors (if we went at all) to how we got our medications to how successfully new products launched. A new report from IQVIA* demonstrates what has happened and gives us a peek into, perhaps, where the future is going.


While down from the peak a year ago, telehealth visits are still up 1500%, as compared to pre-pandemic levels. Telehealth represented roughly 1% of visits prior to the pandemic, increasing to almost 30% in April 2020 and now has maintained 9% to 11% since summer 2020.

With fewer patients in the office, digital plays an increasing role in providing needed information. We need to find ways to target them across their digital ecosystem to provide relevant, engaging content.

Percentage of Visits

Overall, people are still delaying making doctor’s visits. While office medical claims are rebounding, institutional medical claims are still behind. In fact, in 2020 there were almost 1 billion fewer diagnosis visits than in 2019.

Do we need to increase disease awareness efforts to reinforce the need to return to the doctors’ office to optimally manage health?

Fewer Doctor Visits Is Also Aligned To Fewer Prescriptions Written

It’s estimated this will result in 15 million fewer prescriptions written in the first half of 2021 – down approximately 0.5%

Source: I QVIA National Prescription Audit, Dec 2020

Fewer Doctor Visits May Have Influenced the Type of Script Written

1. Less NRX – More Continuing

New vs Continuing Prescription Levels Vary By Specialty

YoY Cumulative NBRx/TRx Growth by Selected Specialty Rolling 52-Week YoY Comparison

2. Fewer Products Launched and While COVID-19 Did Not Impact FDA Approvals, It May Have Impacted Its Success

Number of Launches

In FY 2020, there were 63 launches compared to 69 in FY 2019 (NMEs + promoted branded generics).

Launches Delayed

Of the 49 products approved, only 3 announced a delay due to COVID but were subsequently launched.

Launch Trajectories Feeling the Impact of COVID-19

Ten months into COVID, launches do appear to be impacted.

Products launching during the COVID-19 pandemic generated less sales by ~50% to ~75%.

Staying on the topic of the FDA, from December 2019 to present, the FDA met their 45-day promotional review period almost 100% of the time (a sharp increase from 2019).

Source: FDA

Let's Look at the Pharmacy

There was only a small portion of people who switched from retail to mail-order perscription, and many are switching back to the in-store experience.

The pharmacy is still a primary channel to reach and engage our patients and caregivers.

  • ~2.5% to 3.3% of retail patients switched to mail-order prescriptions
  • Of the patients who switched, ~47% to 50% returned to in-store purchases

Retail performance is slowing as COVID vaccines decline;
Mail YoY performance has increased 5.7%

Clinical Trials Are Back and Stronger Than Ever

COVID-19 had a huge impact on clinical trials. Many patients enrolled in trials may have been vulnerable to infection and traveling to sites could have been detrimental if exposed to COVID-19.

Clinical trials were impacted by:

  • Unwillingness of patients to enroll in new trials
  • Patient anxiety and hesitancy to visit healthcare facilities
  • Impact of COVID-19 on researchers and company employees
  • Complexity of gathering data, especially data from hospital sites overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases

But we now see an increase to a volume higher than in 2019:

*IQVIA US Pharmaceutical Trends, Issues and Outlook for DSN. June 2021

Please contact your Account leads or if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the above.