April 1, 2020

As COVID-19 Cases Surge, Pharma Steps in to Help

Emergency sign with COVID-19

Reports from around the country show individuals stepping up to do their part for those affected by the coronavirus. While pharmaceutical companies have long been the target of public mistrust and negative media attention, right now the industry is doing more than its fair share of rolling up its sleeves to help. As confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States continue to rise, bright minds are scrambling to find ways to diagnose new cases, donate products, help stop the spread, treat the disease and develop a vaccine. Things are moving fast, but here’s a quick look at some of those efforts.

  • Johnson & Johnson and its collaborators at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority are investing $1 billion to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Sanofi and Regeneron have begun testing their IL-6 inhibitor Kevzara with the hope that the drug could mitigate potentially fatal lung complications resulting from COVID-19.
  • Gilead requested that the FDA cancel its newly granted orphan drug designation for its drug remdesivir, opening up the opportunity for expedited testing of the drug as a treatment for COVID-19.
  • AbbVie has given up its global patent rights to the HIV medication Kaletra; Mylan, which makes a generic version of Kaletra, has done the same, enabling widespread use of the drugs should they be effective in treating COVID-19.
  • New York State is working with an as-yet undisclosed pharma partner to test two new medical interventions, one involving blood plasma transfusions collected from COVID-19 patients and another involving antibody testing.
  • Takeda is developing a plasma-based COVID-19 treatment that has been shown to help those with severe acute viral respiratory infections.
  • Bayer AG has donated 3 million tablets of the malaria drug Resochin to the United States for the possible treatment COVID-19, though the drug is not currently approved for use in the United States.
  • Merck is donating 300,000 masks to New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness in support of its COVID-19 relief efforts.
  • Novartis, Bayer and Teva are donating millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for distribution via the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile. It’s not yet known whether these drugs will be effective in treating the disease, and side effects associated with the drugs may limit use in some patients.
  • Merck, Pfizer and Eli Lilly have announced programs that enable employees with medical and laboratory expertise to volunteer their services to local healthcare systems and those hardest hit by COVID-19.

At Intouch, we’re proud to partner with our pharma clients who are making a difference in the fight against COVID-19; along with the public’s adherence to preventive best practices, their efforts may play a key role in stopping the coronavirus in its tracks. Working as a service provider in the healthcare industry has always been rewarding; the coronavirus crisis has provided yet another reminder why. Stay tuned for a post about what we, as individuals, can do for those affected by the disease.