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.
While governments contend with implementing appropriate public health measures and health systems are treating or preparing to treat unprecedented numbers of patients requiring intensive care, our industry is focused on three key areas:

1. Ensuring the supply of medicines to the patients that need them,

2. Supporting governments and health systems on the ground, 
3. The search for vaccines, diagnostics and treatments to help in the fight against the coronavirus.

We are committed to working collaboratively across the research and healthcare communities, utilising our world-leading science, people and resources to tackle this outbreak. We are doing this by:


EFPIA members are heavily engaged in the Innovative Medicines Initiative (Call 21) to fast track collaborative research, identifying any suitable assets in their libraries that could be utilised to develop diagnostics and treatments in the fight against COVID-19. In addition, the industry in Europe is providing financial support and in-kind donations to organisations on the ground as well as working closely with European, Chinese, and Global health authorities to combat this global public health emergency.

Below are just a few of many examples of how EFPIA member companies are supporting efforts in the detection, prevention and treatment of the COVID-19 outbreak.
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In late January, the Chinese health authorities identified Aluvia (lopinavir/ritonavir) as a potential treatment for COVID-19 and requested supply. AbbVie donated approximately $2 million (USD) of Aluvia as an experimental option to help address the growing health crisis. AbbVie is also working with the WHO to ensure a coordinated global effort.
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AstraZeneca is donating nine million face masks to support healthcare workers around the world as they respond to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) global pandemic. AstraZeneca has partnered with the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform, created with the support of the World Health Organisation, to identify countries in greatest need. Italy will receive the first shipments this week with other countries to follow. 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 programmes to supplement testing. To help ensure the continued supply of its medicines to patients, AstraZeneca will screen employees across its manufacturing and supply network. AstraZeneca’s Research and Development (R&D) 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 minimise the global impact of the disease.
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Bayer AG has joined forces with other manufacturers in the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator Initiative, initiated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, thereby opening up their vast compound library to find and develop effective novel compounds against COVID-19. Bayer also responded to the European Innovation Medicine Initiative’s call for the “Development of therapeutics and diagnostics combatting coronavirus infections” with an in-kind contribution covering the screening of a molecular target against the Bayer substance library. They are ready to cooperate with international organizations, governments, authorities and scientific institutions around the globe to jointly explore options to better understand how Chloroquine (a product discovered by Bayer) can contribute to the treatment of patients infected with COVID-19. Bayer is also providing assistance to affected regions and countries. For instance, the company is supporting hospitals in Lombardy, Italy, with a donation of one million euros to help procure urgently needed equipment for intensive care units. Besides Italy, Bayer has already sent considerable financial and material support to China to help contain the pandemic.
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Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) has donated approximately $750,000 in cash and needed products to Wuhan city and Hubei province, through the Shanghai Red Cross Society. The BMS Foundation has separately provided support to two relief partner organisations to provide more than one million items of personal protection, including masks, gloves and coveralls, to healthcare professionals in key hospitals in Wuhan City. The BMS Foundation is also working closely with partners to ensure medical supplies are quickly distributed to frontline medical professionals treating patients in Wuhan. BMS is also diligently monitoring manufacturing and supply facilities across the globe, including in areas which have seen a greater impact, and at this time they do not anticipate disruptions to the supply of medicines for patients due to COVID-19.
Boehringer Ingelheim
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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.

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Chiesi Group increases support measures and announces new funds for employees, patients and healthcare providers in response to COVID-19 pandemic. To date, Chiesi Group support and donations included: donation of 50.000 units of sanitizing hand gel to public transport operators and personal protective equipment to hospitals; Collaboration with associations of general practitioners on advice and guidance, providing support for the purchase of respiratory equipment in hospitals that support COVID-19 patients; Partnership with local volunteer associations to offer financial or material donations and a commitment to maintain support as we identify new areas of intervention that the company can address.
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.
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Farmindustria's members have undertaken many initiatives to assist patients, doctors, the personnel of the entire supply chain and health organisations, in collaboration with the institutions and frequently with patient associations. You can find more information here.
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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is donating $10 million to WHO and the UN Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to support WHO and partners prevent, detect and manage the pandemic, particularly where the needs are the greatest.

GSK is expanding vaccines collaborations, working with five partner companies and research groups across the world, including in the USA and China. This builds on its previous announcements to make its vaccine adjuvant technology available to support COVID-19 vaccine research programmes. The use of an adjuvant is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it may reduce the amount of vaccine doses to be produced, and therefore contributing to the protection of more people.

GSK is entering a new collaborative research effort, the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, by making available compounds from its libraries for screening, with the aim of bringing forward the most promising molecules that could be used to treat cases of COVID-19.

GSK is also evaluating its marketed medicines and those in development, to determine if any could be used beyond their current indications, and evaluating options to make available our specialised laboratory space to help in research and testing of COVID-19.

GSK is also donating surplus reagents to countries to support diagnostic testing, preparing to do the same for surplus personal protective equipment (PPE) and have initiated new volunteering processes for employees, to enable those with medical or specialist expertise to provide support to frontline health workers and national governments.

GSK Consumer Healthcare is prioritising actions in its supply chain to deliver more consumer products that are in high demand, due to COVID-19. This includes increasing production for pain relief brands and multi-vitamins and dietary supplements.
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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! Croatia
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Considering that pharmaceutical industry has the biggest pool of healthcare professionals working outside the healthcare system, the Croatian Innovative Pharmaceutical Industry Association (iF!) recognised the opportunity to enable the MDs to focus on other priorities, instead of answering phone calls.

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.
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  • 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 (100,000€) 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, 100,000€ 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.
J&J and Janssen
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On 30 March 2020 Johnson & Johnson announced the selection of a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate from constructs it has been working on since January 2020. The Company expects to initiate human clinical studies of its lead vaccine candidate at the latest by September 2020 and anticipates the first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use authorisation in early 2021, a substantially accelerated timeframe in comparison to the typical vaccine development process.

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).
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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a huge global pool of forces in medical research and development. Never before have so many projects been started so quickly to produce vaccines that can protect against infection, and treatments that can cure people affected by COVID-19. LIF - the Swedish trade association of the innovative pharmaceutical companies - has compiled a snapshot of how the ongoing research and development efforts, with examples of the most promising projects. The compilation is updated continuously and makes no claims to be comprehensive.
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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.
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The Menarini Group has repurposed one of its manufacturing plants in Italy (normally dedicated to topical gels) to the manufacture of hand sanitising gel. The production capacity has also been upscaled passing from an initial 5 tonnes to 15 tonnes per week and is set to increase even further. The sanitising gel has been donated free of charge to hospitals and front-line personnel engaged in the battle against COVID-19, along with a number of lung ventilators and thousands of medical coveralls, gloves, face shields, goggles and, very shortly, 700.000 face masks. 

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.
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As part of the global effort to investigate potential therapeutics for COVID-19 and their support of independent research, Merck recently donated a supply of interferon beta-1a (Rebif®) to the French Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) following a request for use in a clinical trial. To date, Merck’s interferon beta-1a is not approved by any regulatory authority for the treatment of COVID-19 or for use as an antiviral agent.  Merck has also supported China’s fight against the coronavirus with multiple donation efforts in cash and kind to three well respected local charitable organizations in order to support much needed medical aid. This includes products to support local institutions and invitro diagnostic manufactures to accelerate research, as well as virus diagnosis and testing efforts and personal protective equipment.  Overall, the spread of the coronavirus also stresses the importance of pandemic preparedness – a topic that we continue to support with our € 1 million Merck Future Insight Prize.
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Novartis announced a broad range of initiatives to respond to COVID-19 pandemic. The Novartis COVID-19 Response Fund will provide USD 20 million in grants to support public health initiatives designed to help communities manage challenges posed by the pandemic. The company has established an accelerated global review process for individual grants of up to USD 1 million. Novartis has also entered new collaborative research efforts such as the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, as well as a COVID-19 directed partnership organised by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).  Additionally, in response to an urgent call for research and development on coronavirus, issued by EFPIA, Novartis is contributing by making available several compounds from its libraries that are considered suitable for in vitro antiviral testing. In addition, the company is continuously evaluating other existing products to see if any could be utilized beyond their approved indications in response to the pandemic. A first identified product is hydroxychloroquine, currently under evaluation in clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19, and of which Novartis committed to donate up to 130 million doses. Novartis Sandoz division will pursue appropriate regulatory authorisations and, upon approval, will work with stakeholders to determine how best to get this medicine to the patients who need it. Earlier this month, Sandoz, the company’s generics and biosimilars division, was the first company to commit to keeping prices stable for a basket of essential medicines that may help in the treatment of coronavirus cases. The company has also activated mitigation plans to ensure ongoing drug supply and smooth operations for its over 500 clinical studies. 
Novo Nordisk
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Novo Nordisk is helping the health authorities fight COVID-19 with a variety of initiatives. In response to a shortage of hand sanitiser products in Denmark, we are donating 20 tonnes of ethanol from our production facility in Kalundborg to help bridge the gap. In collaboration with partners including Carlsberg, the ethanol will be manufactured into hand sanitizer and provided to the Danish healthcare system in the coming days. As part of ongoing efforts to provide timely support and resources to the fight against COVID-19, Novo Nordisk will also donate 2,000 protective masks. These will be sent immediately to authorities in Southern Denmark where the need is most pressing. We have made financial donations to the Red Cross in China, as well as to hospitals in Croatia, Greece and Italy to help their efforts to treat and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Testing is a critical aspect of global efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and as of today, we are dedicating one of our HQ R&D laboratories outside Copenhagen towards this key task. In the UK, our Research Centre in Oxford is lending out laboratory equipment to the NHS to support COVID-19 testing. In Italy, we have given an unconditional contribution to Senior Italy FederAnziani, the largest federation for senior citizens, to establish a national toll-free number to provide psychological support and a listening to senior citizens isolated in their homes. The contribution also goes to support the public awareness campaign: Seniors & Coronavirus: rules against contagion from fake news and scams. For a full snapshot of our efforts click here.
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As a global healthcare company, we remain committed to supporting the relief efforts in impacted areas, to help governments and health partners fight against the disease. ​​

Our Science
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.
Pierre Fabre
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In the context of the unprecedented public health emergency caused by Covid-19, hand sanitiser has become a staple product in the fight to protect public health. As the long-standing partner of dispensing pharmacists, the Pierre Fabre Group could not simply look on without taking action as the risk of shortages began to threaten a product that has now become a vital part of daily life. Since mid-March, staff from the Pierre Fabre dermo-cosmetics production and packaging plant in Soual, southwest France, have been fully mobilised to produce hydroalcoholic gel.
Roche and Genentech
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Roche and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, are providing scientific expertise and advice to the WHO and other relevant stakeholders given infectious disease is a key R&D focus area for them. The company is working with Chinese health authorities and the government to help provide screening and health care, including supporting local health officials and hospitals in the Hubei Province. They recently donated diagnostic tests, medical supplies and financial support for the affected region.
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In view of the rapidly changing and ever-challenging COVID-19 pandemic situation, Sanofi is leveraging its expertise and experience in a number of ways to address this public health crisis. 

In collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Sanofi is taking previous work on a SARS vaccine candidate to advance a novel vaccine for COVID-19 using its recombinant DNA technology. The company is also collaborating with Translate Bio to develop a novel mRNA vaccine. 

Sanofi is investigating whether its existing medicines may be effective in treating COVID-19. The first non-U.S. patient has been treated as part of a global clinical program evaluating whether Sanofi and Regeneron’s rheumatoid arthritis drug may ameliorate the life-threatening complications of COVID-19 infections. Sanofi is also working with local governments and health authorities that have officially requested the anti-malarial drug for use in COVID-19. 

Apart from coordinating with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to share its vaccine R&D experience, Sanofi is in weekly contact with the European Commission and EMA to help monitor the impact of COVID-19 on medicines and vaccines supply in Europe. 

Sanofi’s recently announced its intention to  create a leading active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) company based in France by combining six of its European sites. While it is unrelated to COVID-19, it is relevant to the current situation. API are the essential molecules responsible for the beneficial effects used in the composition of any drug. Sanofi’s aim is to secure significant API manufacturing and supply capacities that are critical for patients in Europe, and beyond. Strong political support for this type of initiative is needed.
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Servier actively contributes to the fight against the pandemic on the ground, through several initiatives such as providing personal protection equipment to hospitals in several affected countries, as well as making donations to foundations and NGOs (e.g.: Chinese Red Cross and APHP Foundation). In France, Servier’s home country, the company also brings its expertise 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. In addition, tens of healthcare professionals employed by Servier have volunteered and have been made available to French health authorities to join medical staff on the front line against the virus. Servier puts its best efforts to ensure the continuity of its production in order for its medicines to remain available to patients relying on them

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Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the increased hospital needs, the Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SfEE) called upon its member companies to purchase ICU ventilators for the Greek public hospitals. The call has been met by 9 member companies, which, together with SfEE, purchased 22 high tech ICU ventilators, 112 ICU monitors, 300 air chambers and 2,000 masks that were delivered to the Ministry of Health. The companies are (in alphabetical order): Chiesi, CSL Behring, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Ipsen, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer and Servier. Last but not least, Lavipharm will donate antiseptic gels (22 tons of ethyl alcohol). There is a great deal of interest from many other SfEE member companies to contribute, but unfortunately there are no other ventilators available immediately. Therefore, in consultation with the Ministry of Health, SfEE will coordinate a new effort to assemble a large order of consumables (masks, uniforms, gloves, among others).
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Takeda is committed to taking steps in the fight against the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus by initiating development of a plasma-derived therapy, designated TAK-888, with the potential to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients and to prevent infection in frontline healthcare workers. TAK-888, a polyclonal hyperimmune globulin (H-IG) is an investigational treatment prepared from the plasma of individuals who have fully recovered from COVID-19, and whose blood contains antibodies that can fight the virus. Once donated, the “convalescent” plasma would then be transported to manufacturing facilities where it undergoes effective virus inactivation and removal processes, and then purified into the H-IG.  Takeda is collaborating closely with regulatory agencies, governments and healthcare partners to advance this program. If successful, it is anticipated that this potential therapy could be available within nine to 18 months.
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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. At UCB we are also looking to do our part.

Our action is based on three pillars:

·       Contributing to basic research and treatment development

·       Offering our expertise to increase local testing capabilities

·       Supporting locally and globally through donations as well as direct assistance to patients and partners.

Read more here

Vifor Pharma
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Due to the recent COVID-19 impact on blood donations, blood scarcity is becoming a serious issue for Europe. Vifor Pharma is very active in helping hospitals around the world implementing a practice called "Patient Blood Management" (PBM), which helps minimise the use of blood transfusions while significantly reducing mortality rates in elective surgeries and improving patient outcomes. Vifor Pharma has been collaborating with healthcare institutions and governments around the world on the PBM implementation. In Spain, it is supporting a network of over 80 hospitals on the tracking of PBM related indicators; in France, Vifor Pharma has sponsored a change management agency to work with healthcare institutions to support the implementation of PBM. And at an international level, Vifor Pharma is working with a network of university hospitals to set up a PBM training program.
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EFPIA is in constant dialogue with its members and authorities to ensure the continuity of supply of our medicines and vaccines to patients, in Europe and beyond. To this end, weekly calls have been scheduled with the European Commission to discuss the potential impact of the coronavirus on our supply, along with other priority issues to contain the outbreak.
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Related websites
WHO website
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control 
coronavirus response by the European Commission
EU research projects on coronaviruses
GloPID-R, a unique international network of major research funding organisations