European pharmaceutical industry response to COVID-19
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt across the world, the biopharmaceutical industry in Europe remains committed to global efforts to care for those affected, contain the outbreak and develop resources to tackle future outbreaks.
European pharmaceutical industry response to COVID-19
EFPIA member companies are working around the clock to find vaccines, diagnostics and treatments and ensure patients get access to the medicines they need.
Worldwide, there are more than 100 vaccine candidates in development and over 600 clinical trials underway to find a treatment to use in the fight against COVID-19.
- Amgen and the Amgen Foundation have committed up to $12.5 Million to support COVID-19 relief efforts, including more than $1 Million in Europe (link).
- Amgen and Adaptive Biotechnologies have announced a strategic partnership to develop a therapeutic that might prevent or treat COVID-19 (link).
- deCODE Genetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Amgen, has published their initial genetic research of early spread SARS-Cov-2 virus in the New England Journal of Medicine (link).
Through its scientific expertise in infectious disease and proprietary antibody discovery technology, AstraZeneca has rapidly mobilized its research efforts to discovering novel coronavirus-neutralising antibodies as a treatment to prevent COVID-19 disease.
AstraZeneca is collaborating with the University of Oxford on the global development and distribution of the University’s potential recombinant adenovirus vaccine aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection from SARS-CoV-2 (link). The collaboration aims to bring to patients the potential vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford. Under the agreement, AstraZeneca would be responsible for development and worldwide manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine. The phase I/II interim results for AZD1222 confirmed that the vaccine was tolerated and showed robust immune responses against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in all evaluated participants.
AstraZeneca has concluded an agreement with the European Commission (EC) to supply up to 400 million doses of the AZD1222 COVID-19 vaccine. Building on the existing agreement with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance spearheaded by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, this new agreement will give all EU member states the option to access the vaccine in an equitable manner at no profit during the pandemic. It also allows EU member states to redirect doses to other European countries
AstraZeneca is also donating nine million face masks to support health care workers around the world as they respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The company has partnered with the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform, created with the support of the World Health Organization, to identify countries in greatest need.
In addition to these donations, AstraZeneca is accelerating the development of its diagnostic testing capabilities to scale-up screening and is also working in partnership with governments on existing screening programs to supplement testing. Most recently, AstraZeneca has partnered with the University of Cambridge and GSK in the UK to support the Government’s response to the pandemic in expanding its testing capacity.
To help ensure the continued supply of its medicines to patients, AstraZeneca will screen employees across its manufacturing and supply network. The company’s research and development teams have also been working expeditiously to identify monoclonal antibodies to progress towards clinical trial evaluation as a treatment to prevent COVID-19. More than 50 virology, immunology, respiratory and protein engineering experts across research, clinical, regulatory and manufacturing are placing the highest priority on developing a treatment to minimize the global impact of the disease.AstraZeneca also initiated a randomized, global clinical trial to assess the potential of Calquence (acalabrutinib) in the treatment of the exaggerated immune response (cytokine storm) associated with COVID-19 infection in severely ill patients. The trial design is based upon strong scientific evidence supporting the role of the Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) pathway in the production of inflammatory cytokines and on encouraging early clinical data. Calquence is a next-generation, highly selective BTK inhibitor currently used to treat certain types of blood cancers.
Additionally, AstraZeneca has partnered with global patient coalitions representing millions of patients from around the world to launch New Normal, Same Cancer, a program that raises awareness regarding the impact of COVID-19 on cancer care and calls for patients to contact their doctor and return to cancer care services, including anyone who has paused treatment, missed routine checks or is experiencing symptoms that may be due to cancer.
Watch this video to discover more on Bayer's efforts against COVID-19.
BIAL is committed with all parties to support the fight against COVID-19, making every effort to protect employees’ health and ensure the continuous supply of its medicines to all patients in need.
BIAL has increased its production and stocks, prioritising products that may have a higher demand due to COVID-19.
BIAL created a monetary Fund to support communities manage challenges caused by the pandemic, especially addressed to respond to different needs from health professionals and institutions, from welfare institutions or within the scope of programs and projects addressed to provide better provision care.
Boehringer Ingelheim immediately identified the areas of expertise, where we can best contribute to developing therapies for COVID-19 in close collaboration with academic researchers, international institutions and others in the pharma industry. Boehringer Ingelheim has joined a fast track call for project submissions to develop therapies and diagnostic tools initiated by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) of the European Union to accelerate the development of potential therapies for COVID-19. Boehringer Ingelheim is working to develop neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. In addition, we are investigating our existing pipeline and in-market compounds as well as compounds from former HIV and HCV research activities. Furthermore, Boehringer Ingelheim is conducting a computational screening of its entire molecule library of more than one million compounds with the aim of identifying novel small molecules with activity against the virus.
Learn more about Boehringer Ingelheim’s engagement in the fight against COVID-19.
Boehringer Ingelheim put in place a number of solutions to maintain continuity of care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic - find more out here and here.
Chiesi has announced today a new €3 million fund to support efforts to address this crisis in Italy. This fund will support a range of actions including donations of personal protective equipment, ventilators and sanitising gel in response to requests from hospitals and other health institutions. The company has also made direct donations of drugs for respiratory diseases to hospitals in China and Italy. Chiesi has also set up a process where team members in Italy can donate "virtual" hours of work to an association of volunteers in Parma to support emergency response. The company converted the donated hours worked into a monetary donation, which was then doubled by the Chiesi Group. In two weeks close to € 70.000 have already been collected.
Watch this video to discover more on Chiesi's efforts against COVID-19.
Watch this video to discover more on Farmindustria's efforts against COVID-19.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our thoughts are with those who are impacted. Our foremost contribution in the fight against COVID-19 is using our science to develop solutions. We are also doing everything we can to ensure the health and wellbeing of our patients, customers, employees and communities.
Consistent with our values and role as a science-led global healthcare company, we are continuing to make decisions informed by the latest science and in consultation with leading health authorities.
Since the pandemic began, we have been seeking ways to harness our scientific expertise and technology to make a difference. As a result, we are working with several partners to develop potential COVID-19 vaccines and treatments as quickly and safely as possible.
Visit the COVID-19 section of GSK.com to find out more about our response, including how we are:
- Using our adjuvant technology to develop several protein-based adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccines, collaborating with Sanofi, SK Bioscience of South Korea and Medicago of Canada.
- Investigating the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines by expanding our work with CureVac of Germany, who are amongst a small number of companies pioneering mRNA technology, to jointly develop next-generation mRNA COVID-19 vaccines which could address multiple variants in a single vaccine.
- Helping to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines for other companies.
- Developing potential treatments for COVID-19, including collaborating with Vir Biotechnology to develop new dual action monoclonal antibodies, which could be used as therapeutic or preventive options to fight this and future outbreaks.
- Conducting a trial to assess whether a GSK monoclonal antibody already in development can help treat hospitalised patients aged 70 and over who are affected by COVID-19.
- Ensuring continuous supply of our medicines, vaccines and consumer healthcare products.
- Using our capabilities and expert facilities, plus supporting frontline health workers.
Across all of our COVID-19 solutions, we are committed to working in partnership, taking a global approach, ensuring a commitment to access, and supporting future pandemic preparedness.
With the global health crisis unfolding, it is very important to help the personnel who are sacrificing themselves for the benefit of the whole country and to ensure safe working conditions for them, according to Agnė Gaižauskienė, CEO of IFPA - the Lithuanian Innovative Pharmaceutical Industry Association.
“Lithuanian hospitals lack personal protection equipment: respirators, disposable coveralls and other items. Now more than ever, we need a concerted effort and close collaboration to achieve the common goal, so we have joined other business organisations and contributed support directed specifically at procuring personal protection equipment for healthcare professionals. We are currently working hard to secure speedy delivery of the equipment so that the personnel dealing directly with the COVID-19 virus receive the much needed protection as soon as possible,” Ms Gaižauskienė said.
IFPA, together with other local partners, has raised nearly EUR 360,000 for the purchase of personal protection equipment. Ms Gaižauskienė added that the Innovative Pharmaceutical Industry Association continues to look for more opportunities to help healthcare professionals and workers.
“We have also initiated an additional IFPA member support fund within the association, which will be used to help medical staff. We will continue to do our utmost to take care of those who are rescuing lives every day and are currently in the forefront of the fight against COVID-19,” Ms Gaižauskienė said.
iF! Gx colleagues joined the initiative very fast, and as of 23 March there are 187 volunteers covering the call center with no risk attached, as everyone is connected via their mobile phones and they work from home, covering shifts from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
iF! volunteers are answering hundreds of phone calls about corona symptoms, but also about contagion prevention, travel restrictions and even gas delivery! The citizens feedback is brilliant, and the feeling the volunteers got in return is priceless.
For more information on this initiative, read here.
- Ipsen Global donated €2 million to the Institut Pasteur to support the 21 research projects currently ongoing to combat COVID-19.
- Ipsen Benelux donated 700 medical masks to various hospitals in Gent for healthcare workers on the front lines.
- Ipsen France is supporting France Biotech, MedTech and France Digital in a public-private initiative, “Health Innovation Coalition - Health Crisis” to alleviate congestion in the healthcare system and ensure patients with diseases unrelated to COVID-19 experience no disruption in treatment. Regional initiatives in France also include donations of 500 gowns to local hospitals, while ensuring patients are still able to receive the medicines they need, donation of medical masks and medical gloves to local healthcare workers.
- Ipsen Greece donated two ventilators for intensive care units following a call from local health authorities who were anticipating a shortage in medical equipment.
- Ipsen Iberia is working on a program where all coupon restaurants of the teams for March and April will be donated to the Red Cross.
- Ipsen Italy allocated its entire 2020 Grants and Donations budget to the Bergamo Hospital in northern Italy, one of the regions hit hardest by COVID-19, for the purchase of ventilators and non-invasive ventilating materials. Furthermore, a sum of money will be donated to the Italian Civil Protection, which coordinates health efforts throughout the country, plus a newly created delivery service of oral oncological drugs for patients with kidney cancer.
Watch this video to discover more on Ipsen's efforts against COVID-19.
Thanks to J&J diversification, size and scale, it has been able to take rapid action across its Pharmaceutical, Consumer and Medical Devices businesses, as well as their Supply Chain and other supporting functions, to help stay ahead of the pandemic. Beyond seeking an optimal vaccine candidate, to date J&J efforts have included: Making available currently marketed antivirals to test their potential efficacy; Collaborating with industry partners to screen a library of antiviral molecules, with the aim to identify potential treatments; Working with regulators, healthcare organisations, institutions and communities worldwide to maximise their research platforms; Supporting healthcare professionals through making available tools, such as personal equipment (for instance via a RMB 1 million donation to the China Red Cross Foundation), a surgical generator and other devices for the newly-built isolation hospitals, protective suits, and a million masks among others; Last but not least, working with Governments to bring support on the ground, such as the ongoing cooperation with Belgium to use Janssen own laboratories in Beerse to significantly increase the capacity for COVID-19 testing. Cooperation also includes the new production of disinfectant hand liquid in Janssen Manufacturing Plant in Geel (Belgium).
Watch this video to discover more on Janssen's efforts against COVID-19.
Lilly joined forces with AbCellera Biologics to co-develop antibody products for the treatment and prevention of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The collaboration will leverage AbCellera’s rapid pandemic response platform, developed under the DARPA Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) Program, and Lilly’s global capabilities for rapid development, manufacturing and distribution of therapeutic antibodies.
Eli Lilly and Company announced April 10th, that it has entered into an agreement with the (United States) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), on a study arm in NIAID's Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial, beginning this month in the U.S. with a planned expansion to additional sites including Europe and Asia. Results are expected within the next two months.
Lilly will also advance an investigational selective monoclonal antibody against Angiopoietin 2 (Ang2), to Phase 2 testing in pneumonia patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who are at a higher risk of progressing to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Ang2 is known to be elevated in ARDS patients and Lilly will test whether inhibiting the effects of Ang2 with a monoclonal antibody can reduce the progression to ARDS or the need for mechanical ventilation in COVID-19 patients. This trial will begin later this month at several U.S. centers.
Junshi Biosciences and Lilly announced on May 4th they have entered into an agreement to co-develop therapeutic antibodies for the potential prevention and treatment of COVID-19. At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Junshi Biosciences—a China-based biopharmaceutical company —launched one of the industry's first R&D efforts aimed at discovering therapies to combat COVID-19. Multiple neutralizing antibodies have been engineered, with the lead asset poised to enter clinical testing in the second quarter.
Watch this video to discover more on Lilly's efforts against COVID-19.
The Menarini Group is also providing financial support as well as in-kind donations to organisations in the front line across Europe and beyond, commented Dr Eric Cornut, Chairman of Menarini Group.
MSD has been fully committed to developing an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic since it was first recognized, and we know that success will require global collaboration among countries, companies and more.
In May MSD announced two COVID-19 vaccine development efforts – a collaboration with IAVI and plans to acquire Themis Bioscience, a company focused on vaccines and immune-modulation therapies for infectious diseases, including COVID-19. MSD also announced a research collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to develop a novel oral antiviral candidate for the treatment of COVID-19.
In a joint effort with IAVI, a nonprofit scientific research organization, MSD collaborates to develop an investigational SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. This vaccine candidate will use the recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) technology that is the basis for MSD’s Ebola Zaire virus vaccine, which was the first rVSV vaccine approved for use in humans. MSD has also signed an agreement with the BARDA to provide initial funding support for this effort. The vaccine candidate is in preclinical development, and clinical studies are planned to start later in 2020.
Through the acquisition of Themis, an Austrian company, MSD plans to accelerate the development of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine based on a measles virus platform.
MSD will ensure that all of these programs have the resources, attention and focus they need – and that the COVID-19 pandemic demands.
In addition to the collaborations with IAVI and Ridgeback Bio, and the acquisition of Themis, we are participating in a research collaboration with the Institute for Systems Biology to investigate and define the molecular mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 and identify targets for medicines and vaccines, as well as the NIH-led Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV consortium).
In response to the pandemic, MSD has changed its volunteer policy to support employees with medical backgrounds. Recognizing the need for additional health care professionals, including doctors, nurses and medical laboratory technicians, to assist in regions where COVID-19 is spreading, the company deployed a new program to enable our medically trained employees to volunteer their time to aid their communities while maintaining their base pay.
More information: msd.com
For 170 years, our scientists and experts at Pfizer have addressed global health challenges. As part of our immediate response, we identified anti-viral compounds in our libraries which may have potential to address COVID-19. We are engaging with a third party to screen these compounds under an accelerated timeline and currently expect to have the results back by the end of March. We are also working with our partner BioNTech to co-develop a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
On a broader scale, Pfizer is committed to working as one team across the industry to harness our scientific expertise, technical skills and manufacturing capabilities to combat this evolving crisis. We have made five promises that will help scientists more rapidly bring forward therapies and vaccines to protect humankind from this escalating pandemic and prepare the industry to better respond to future global health crises.
Our Relief Efforts
Pfizer is grateful to the medical professionals on the front lines of this pandemic. We have an extensive global network of medical practitioners and experts, many of whom feel called to support their communities in the diagnosis, treatment and provision of public health support during this time. We respect their courage and selflessness to serve and have established a medical service policy that will allow these colleagues up to 13 weeks of paid leave, or longer if necessary, to provide this support.
Pfizer and the Pfizer Foundation have a long history of addressing humanitarian disasters. We are working with governments and international NGOs to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by donating much needed medications and vaccines and working to support front line health workers.
In Italy, Pfizer’s affiliate is making available, free of charge, €2.5 million worth of medicines and vaccines that can be used in prevention and management of serious consequences related to COVID-19 in impacted regions. Pfizer is also dedicating resources to ensure safe and timely home delivery of essential drugs for patients with life threatening and rare diseases, such as haemophilia.
Watch this video to discover more on Pfizer's efforts against COVID-19.
Roche is doing everything it can to contribute to fighting the pandemic. Their people are working day and night with the aim of developing, manufacturing and supplying key tests and medicines where they are needed most. They are partnering with healthcare providers, laboratories, authorities and organisations to support local response, and they are committed to help make sure that patients receive the tests, treatment and care they need.
Roche's contribution focuses on our existing strengths and capabilities:
COVID-19 testing: They are committed to providing testing solutions for the world’s most challenging healthcare emergencies. In mid-March they launched a high-volume molecular test intended for the qualitative detection of the SARS-Cov-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. On April 19, they announced development and upcoming launch of Anti-SARS-CoV-2 serology test to detect antibodies in people who have been exposed to the virus.
Investigating treatment options: While there are currently no approved medicines for the treatment of COVID-19, Roche is actively involved in understanding the potential of its existing portfolio and is researching options for the future. On 19 March, they announced initiation of COVACTA - a global Phase III randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of intravenous tocilizumab plus standard of care in hospitalised adult patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia compared to placebo plus standard of care. They have also initiated an internal early research programme focused on the development of medicines for COVID-19.
People: Roche knows its people are both highly skilled and passionate about their purpose. They are proud of the work they are doing to support their local communities, from helping out in local healthcare facilities to answering requests from call centres.
In these exceptional times, Roche stands together with governments, healthcare providers and all those working to overcome the pandemic.
Watch this video to discover more on Roche’s efforts against COVID-19.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanofi is leveraging its expertise and experience in a number of ways to address this public health crisis.
Sanofi remains committed to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, in an unprecedented collaborative way, with two vaccine candidates to increase access to vaccination for the world’s population:
- An adjuvanted Recombinant Protein vaccine that is in the process of being developed in collaboration with GSK using innovative technologies from both companies: Sanofi contributes with its S-protein COVID-19 antigen, which is based on recombinant DNA technology; and GSK contributes with its proven pandemic adjuvant technology.
- Sanofi and GSK announced on May 27 the start of a phase 3 clinical trial for their vaccine candidate which, in phase 2 initial results shared, demonstrated strong immune responses across all adult age groups. On 20th July 2021, it was announced that EU regulators (EMA) began rolling review of this adjuvanted recombinant protein vaccine candidate
- A messenger RNA vaccine for which Sanofi is collaborating with Translate Bio Phase 1/2 clinical trial was initiated in March 2021 with interim results expected in Q3 2021.Sanofi’s priority remains to advance its two COVID-19 vaccine programs, but where an acceleration of vaccine deliveries is needed at global level the company is stepping up to contribute to the collective effort to help manufacture approved vaccines from other companies.
Sanofi is lending a hand with its manufacturing capabilities with BioNTech in Germany, with J&J in France and more recently with Moderna in the United States.
- In June 2021, Sanofi launched dedicated vaccines mRNA Center of Excellence. The company will invest approximately €400 million annually in a first-of-its kind vaccines mRNA Center of Excellence. The Center will work to accelerate the development and delivery of next-generation vaccines.
Sanofi is as well engaged in building the needed industrial capacities and to that end strongly supports the proposal of immediate and longer-term flexible manufacturing capacity for vaccines and medicines in Europe.
- Last June, Sanofi announced half a billion euro investment in the creation of an Evolutive Vaccine Facility (EVF), state-of-the-art industrial site in France that will use the latest innovative vaccine production technologies
- In addition, the creation of EUROAPI was announced in January 2021– a future leading European company with “made in Europe” API state-of-the-art industrial capabilities and technologies. It will be dedicated to the development, production, and marketing of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and help balance the industry’s heavy reliance on API sourced from other regions. This will contribute timely to securing supply of critical medicines in Europe, which appears even more critical in pandemic period.
In its efforts to fight against COVID-19, Sanofi has also launched an educational webpage on "Developing COVID-19 Vaccines: Behind the Scenes".
More information on these two vaccine candidate programmes are available via our website : Sanofi’s Two Vaccine Candidates against COVID-19 - Sanofi
Since the beginning of the crisis, Servier is committed to helping those who fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Beyond supporting the research efforts to prevent and treat the coronavirus disease, our company has, to date, contributed to solidary initiatives in more than 35 countries. Servier is assisting health authorities and hospitals by providing hand sanitizer gel and urgently needed personal protection equipment (more than 300 000 masks, gloves and other protective gear donated directly by Servier or through industry association initiatives). Servier is also joining forces with foundations, NGOs and associations (such as the Chinese Red Cross and Americares in India) by making donations to help caregivers and populations affected by the virus. In France, many healthcare professionals employed by Servier have volunteered to join medical staff on the front line against the virus. Servier also brings its expertise and financial support to the multi-stakeholders partnership “Health Innovation Coalition – Health Crisis″ that aims to develop innovative solutions to relieve congestion in the healthcare system and ensure patients with chronic diseases continue to be treated.
As a global leader in healthcare, Servier puts its best efforts to ensure the continuity of its operations and provide full access to its medicines for patients who rely on them. 98% of Servier’s innovative medicines’ active ingredients are produced in Europe.
A significant donation of personal protective items has been made by SFEE and its member companies for the protection of healthcare professionals working in public hospitals in their fight against COVID-19. They aimed to help the collective effort of supporting the National Health System by offering medical supplies and consumable items to the Ministry of Health.
For this purpose, SFEE and its member companies proceeded with the purchase of immediate priority items:
- 077 surgical masks,
- 146 full-body protective suits,
- 168 special glasses,
- 574 shoe covers and
- 44 boxes of gloves (each containing 1.000 pairs).
The member companies that contributed in the donation together with the Association are (in alphabetical order): Amgen, Anabiosis, Angelini, Astellas, Bayer, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Galenica, Genesis Pharma, Gilead, Janssen, Lundbeck, Merck, Pharmaserve-Lilly, Pfizer, Recordati, Sobi, Takeda and UCB.
The Association of Pharmaceutical Companies of Greece, as a responsible social partner, will continue to support the National Health System as well as the Health Professionals in their daily fight on the front lines against COVID-19.
As a leading global pharmaceutical company, Teva provides essential medicines to millions of patients around the world every day. Our priorities remain focused on the health and well-being of our employees and on our responsibility to continue to provide our medicines to the nearly 200 million patients who depend on us every day.
Providing COVID-19 treatments
We are continuously assessing our portfolio in support of COVID-19 treatment needs, and our global manufacturing network is focused on securing and scaling production of both API and finished doses for potential treatments. We do this while continuing to supply our vast portfolio of medicines to other patients. Across our network of factories, where possible, sites have moved to 24/7 shift patterns in order to maximise production at this crucial time.
Teva has also donated over 15 million medicine units to support in the battle against COVID-19 across 25 countries and has donated personal protection equipment and hand sanitiser across markets to support healthcare systems.
These are challenging times. The surge of cases of COVID-19 is having a profound impact on people around the world, putting pressure on our health systems and disrupting all our daily lives.
It is heartening to seeing the wave of solidarity coming from companies, organizations and individuals. UCB is also looking to do its part.
Its action is based on three pillars:
· Contributing to basic research and treatment development
· Supporting locally and globally through donations as well as direct assistance to patients and partners.
· Offering our expertise to increase local testing capabilities: in Belgium UCB is participating in a national consortium, bringing together Public and Private partners, to support national efforts to scale up COVID-19 testing to help tackle the ongoing pandemic (more information available here).
More information on UCB initiatives to fight against COVID-19 can be found here.