Avalere Analyst Describes How COVID-19 Has Impacted the Cell and Gene Space

Megan Olsen, MPH, principal at Avalere, provides a comprehensive overlook into the many ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the cell and gene therapy space.

Megan Olsen, MPH, principal at Avalere, provides a comprehensive overlook into the many ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the cell and gene therapy space.

Transcript

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the development and utilization of gene and cell therapies?

Olsen: So, the COVID-19 pandemic has had several implications on the health care system more broadly, as well as the cell and gene therapy space, specifically. A few that I would highlight here, certainly, with the pandemic early on, we saw a lot of economic impacts. A lot of people unfortunately lost their jobs and a lot of people who have insurance today get insurance through their jobs. So, as people lost insurance, in many cases, they also unfortunately lost employer-based health insurance. As a result, people may have found themselves uninsured and were not able to secure an additional coverage option or alternative coverage option. In other cases, others might have moved into the Medicaid market if they found themselves eligible for Medicaid in their state, or may have found coverage affordable on the exchanges in their state. So, there are different ways in which patients might have obtained insurance or otherwise remained uninsured after losing the job. And certainly that has implications for cost sharing and benefit design, and for access as well. So, some disruptions there.

And then in the access to care and utilization space, we also saw a lot of declines in care visits in early diagnoses, for instance, with patients not visiting their providers as often, or maybe delaying care and delaying treatment. That could have some long-term implications, particularly as we think about the oncology space if some of those early diagnoses were missed or delayed. So, certainly some utilization effects fall across the system.

Then as we think about the pipeline, there are a lot of cell and gene therapies currently in development. Some of those trials are companies investing in this space felt disruption due to the pandemic as well, whether it was disruptions to ongoing trials and recruitment efforts, or just an inability to invest as much as they might have otherwise given some broader company priorities. I think another aspect to note is the FDA. The FDA is playing a large role in the cell and gene therapy space, but, of course, had to refocus some of its priorities on the pandemic in the near term as well. So, I think it has had many implications, and we'll probably see these continue to play out for some time.