Statement 9 June 2023

First-of-its-kind event brings together 10 companies that partnered to deliver vaccines and treatments in response to COVID-19

On 7 June 2023, IFPMA hosted a unique opportunity to hear from 10 companies, about the different partnership models that supported the industry’s response to COVID-19.  This open event included discussion on the challenges of scaling up manufacturing to meet global demand for vaccines and treatments, with representatives from MSD – Dr Reddy’s Laboratories; Gilead Sciences – Ferozsons Laboratories Limited; Johnson and Johnson – Aspen Pharma Care; Pfizer – Biovac, and AstraZeneca.

The event also saw the presentation of the latest data by health and data analytics company, Airfinity. The data showed that:

  • 44 therapeutics have been approved for COVID-19, and 1 in 18 therapeutics in clinical trials have reached the market.
  • 59 vaccines have been approved for COVID-19, around 1 in 5 vaccines in clinical trials have reached the market.
  • 177 collaborations have been agreed for production and commercialization of COVID-19 treatments. There have been 374 manufacturing and supply chain announcements for COVID-19 vaccines, 71% of which involved a collaboration.
  • 84 out of 93 voluntary licensing agreements for COVID-19 treatments are active – 80 of which are in developing countries.
  • Manufacturing partnerships for therapeutics and vaccines were signed in parallel. Most of these happened before or within days of approval.

During the discussion, there was broad agreement that a diversity of partnership approaches were critical to their success. No one single partnership was alike. This included voluntary licensing partnerships; technology transfer; or fill and finish approaches. While different in approach, the common thread amongst these partnerships was that they were enabled by IP and based on trust, prior experience and expertise. Flexibility allows for partners to efficiently adapt to the circumstances and to able to cater to the unique needs of a country or surge demands.

Companies also spoke about the elements that helped foster these partnerships:

  • A rigorous selection process based on several factors, including ability to meet stringent quality controls, safety track record, technical capability, capacity availability, highly trained workforce, and a trusted relationship.
  • Flexible and voluntary approaches that ensure optimum use of resources such as raw materials, shortage of skilled workforce.
  • Early engagement between companies allows for a quick response.
  • Intellectual property and the innovation ecosystem offers an enabling framework.

Looking to the future, there was agreement that:

  • In order to have sustained partnerships and manufacturing, there needs to be an innovation ecosystem with stable infrastructure in place.
  • IP grounded partnerships based on a voluntary and trusted relationships are key to a rapid response.
  • For future pandemics, there are several areas at multilateral and regional level that need to be addressed, such regulatory harmonization, supply chain and healthcare system strengthening and removal of trade barriers.

Speaking at the event, Thomas Cueni, IFPMA Director General, said:

“It’s now easy to take for granted the many accomplishments we have witnessed in our collective response to COVID-19. We saw innovation deliver in real time, with scientists, engineers, regulators, and many partners around the world working together to find fast and safe solutions. We cannot take this for granted and, if we are to be better prepared to respond to future pandemics, we must strengthen these partnerships and ensure they can continue to thrive.”

Marco Alemán, Assistant Director General, WIPO and Anthony Taubman, Director, Intellectual Property Division, WTO Secretariat opened the event, followed by an impressive panel:

  • Tiwadayo Braimoh, Policy Advocacy, Medicines Patent Pool
  • Leisha Daly, Head of Government Affairs & Policy EMEA Supply Chain Initiatives & Campus at Johnson & Johnson
  • Osman Khalid Waheed, CEO of Ferozsons Laboratories Limited
  • Morena Makhoana, CEO, Biovac
  • Kilian Mullet, Senior Director, Business Development, Pfizer
  • Stavros Nicolaou, Group Senior Executive, Strategic Trade at Aspen Pharma Group
  • Paula Pohja-Hutchison, Senior Director, Global Policy & Advocacy, AstraZeneca
  • Hemal Shah, Director for Public Policy, Gilead
  • Vignesh Shivnath, Business Development & Alliance Management, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories
  • Julia Spencer, AVP, Global Multilateral Engagement, Strategic Alliances, and International Relations, MSD

Rewatch the event: