Health & Beauty

Innovation in a Pandemic: How Three Biopharmaceutical Companies Rose to the Top

The COVID-19 pandemic completely changed how business was run in 2020. Many companies, faced with a deadly disease, had no choice but to slow down, close their offices, and work in a limited capacity. New ideas and new products were halted by the global closure of factories and other businesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic completely changed how business was run in 2020. Many companies, faced with a deadly disease, had no choice but to slow down, close their offices, and work at a limited capacity. New ideas and new products were halted by the global closure of factories and other businesses. 


The one product the entire world still relied on to pull them through the pandemic was medical innovation, produced by biopharmaceutical companies. These companies needed to create, produce, and safely distribute vaccines for COVID-19. But other diseases and medical disorders didn’t just stop because of the pandemic. More innovation was needed to address the many complications that came with pre-existing conditions and COVID-19, as well as other medical conditions. 


Biopharmaceutical companies research and develop biopharmaceutical drugs, which are medicines and formulas made from living organisms. Many medical professionals are making the switch from traditional medicines to biopharmaceutical drugs as the modern world progresses. 


While hundreds of biopharmaceutical companies work together to solve universal health problems and conditions, only a handful of companies stood out in 2020. The top three companies, Samsung Biologics, Gilead Sciences, and Amgen, distinguished themselves in the fields where they specialized. While other companies struggled to find new horizons, these top three expanded, produced, and partnered in order to solve the global pandemic and find solutions for treating and preventing COVID-19. 


Below are each of the top three biopharmaceutical companies and the ways they’ve stood out in the past year. 


  1. Samsung Biologics

Using innovative project management, expert technology, and engineered product capabilities, Samsung Biologics has grown significantly to be an established force in the biopharmaceutical world. The South Korean contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) ensures on-time delivery of a quality product. 


The company currently operates one filling line and has a second filling line prepared to be operational by 2022. These filling lines use aseptic filling and lyophilization capabilities to assist drug manufacturing partners in fulfilling the high demand for medication and vaccines needed. The GMP manufacturing services provided by Samsung Biologics have built an impressive track record that consists of 32 product approvals over five years from multiple international regulatory bodies. 


Furthermore, Samsung Biologics is currently building a biomanufacturing facility at the Incheon Free Economic Zone that is set to be the largest in the world. CIO James Choi described the process, saying, “In automating our facilities, we utilize a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) at the beginning of each batch production to ensure that the materials are dispensed correctly and are accurately traced through the entire batch process, reducing the risk of operator error, and improving data accuracy with the automated weighing and dispensing process.” 


The new facility will be operational in 2023. Choi also said, “At Samsung Biologics we’ve already implemented large-scale N-1 perfusion allowing us to boost our clients’ clinical and commercial production capability ultimately reducing production time by up to 30 percent.” 


  1. Gilead Sciences


Gilead Sciences, an American biopharmaceutical company, has been dedicated to finding cures for chronic illnesses and conditions for thirty years. The research facilities have been focused on antiviral research, HIV, and cancer. The company currently operates in over 35 countries. Recently, the company has been approved by the FDA for a drug that treats a common type of bladder cancer, known as Trodelvy. CEO of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network Andrea Maddox-Smith said, “Cases of urothelial cancer continue to rise in the U.S., yet prognosis remains the same for the vast majority of patients. Bladder cancer patients need as many treatment options as possible, and we are pleased that Trodelvy can be a potentially viable treatment for them.” 


The company also partnered with Merck to develop and commercialize HIV treatments, which will begin later in 2021. These new drugs will give patients options in how they want to be treated for the disease. CEO Daniel O’Day said, “Our work in HIV over the past decades has been shaped by listening to people living with HIV and the physicians who treat them. Now we are taking the same approach with long-acting therapies, combining the most advanced science from both companies to accelerate progress.” 


  1. Amgen


One of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical and biotechnical companies, Amgen works toward solving health crises that typically go unmet. The past year has been a year of success and expansion for the company, including a purchase of all the stock for Five Prime Therapeutics. CEO Robert Bradway said, “Five Prime fits squarely within Amgen’s leading oncology portfolio and includes bemarituzumab, a Phase 3 trial-ready, first-in-class program for gastric cancer, the third leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide. Working with the dedicated professionals joining us from Five Prime, we plan to quickly move bemarituzumab into a Phase 3 study, bringing it one step closer to helping patients suffering from gastric cancer.”


Furthermore, the company has focused on strong safety and sanitization procedures while continuing their work researching and developing medicines. Manufacturing director Tracy Schorner said, “It’s a testament to our team that they have taken all the precautions needed to ensure the continued delivery of medicines to our patients. It’s been a challenge and we are proud to be meeting it in the midst of a global pandemic.” 


Barron’s named Amgen one of America’s top sustainable companies for 2020 because in the midst of the chaos, the company managed to grow and yet still remain eco-conscious. “Companies usually are judged on a series of environmental, social, and corporate governance metrics, known as ESG, that measure how a company’s managers make decisions and plan for the future in areas beyond profitability,” said Barron’s. 


Bradway stated in a letter to his employees, “The commitment you have shown to patients, our business, and each other has been nothing short of extraordinary. Amgen was strong heading into the pandemic, we are strong today, and we will be strong in the future. You are that strength.”