Global health challenges

Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) – Industry’s support on the ground

Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) – Industry’s support on the ground

The spread of the novel coronavirus is a major public health threat for all affected countries. The industry is fully supportive of efforts that will ensure the scientific community can respond quickly to the challenges this pandemic represents.

When the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) first emerged in Wuhan, China, IFPMA member companies started working closely together with the Chinese governments and provided support on the ground, in form of donations of medicines, personal protective gear, diagnostic test kits, and financial support. Latest developments throughout March have shown very few new cases in China and the majority of patients with COVID-19 have recovered or are on their way to recovery. With COVID-19 spreading globally, and particularly increasing cases across Europe, the biopharmaceutical industry is concentrating their efforts to accelerate R&D efforts into vaccines and treatments to halt the global spread of the virus.

Across the R&D-based biopharmaceutical industry, the first concern is for those affected by the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

When COVID-19 first emerged in Wuhan, China, IFPMA and its member companies started working with their teams on the ground, and with the Chinese authorities to ensure people can get access to screening and healthcare.

By March 2020, China passed the peak of the COVID-19 with the number of new coronavirus cases continuing to decline while the epidemic maintains a “lower level” overall. By mid-March, the total number of cases and deaths outside China also overtook the total number of cases in China. Europe, and particularly Italy and Spain, and the United States are the most heavily affected areas of the pandemic by the end of March.

With China slowly resuming its economic and social life, the biopharmaceutical industry is concentrating their efforts to accelerate R&D efforts into vaccines and treatments to curb the global spread of the virus. Efforts on the ground, taking the form of donations or financial supplies, shifted by March to countries most affected in Europe, particularly Italy, and the United States.

Support on the ground to the most affected countries  

  • Abbvie announced a donation of $35 million to support COVID-19 relief efforts. In the U.S., AbbVie’s funds will be used to support healthcare capacity for hospitals as well as protect vulnerable populations by enabling access to food and essential supplies. In Europe, the donation will provide critical equipment and supplies to patients and front-line healthcare workers in the hardest-hit countries.
  • Amgen and the Amgen Foundation announced an initial commitment of up to $12.5 million to support U.S. and global relief efforts to address critical needs in communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will be used to support emergency response efforts in Amgen’s U.S. and international communities, patient-focused organizations that are mounting their own response efforts, and international relief efforts by Direct Relief and International Medical Corps.
  • 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.
  • Bristol Myers Squibb Company and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation donated more than $5 million in financial support and needed products (i.e., personal protection equipment) to affected areas around the world, including the U.S., and the Lombardy region in Italy.
  • Eli Lilly is deploying its medical professionals to staff a free drive-through COVID-19 testing facility at its corporate headquarters in Indianapolis. The testing facility serves active frontline health care workers and first responders, as a service to the community and in an effort to protect people working on the front lines of this pandemic.
  • Farmindustria and its member companies have donated over 9.4 million Euro worth of medicines to Italian hospitals; 21.8 million Euro of financial and material donations, such as respiratory personal protective equipment, and disinfectant gels, and four companies have modified their production lines in order to meet health needs during this pandemic.
  • Johnson & Johnson announced a $50 Million commitment to support frontline health workers battling Covid-19. The funds will be earmarked for assisting the doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers who are working tirelessly to treat patients around the world during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  • GSK is donating $10 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, created by the UN Foundation and WHO, to support WHO and partners to prevent, detect, and manage the pandemic, particularly where the needs are the greatest. Amongst its objectives, the fund will enable distribution of essential supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health workers. GSK is also donating surplus reagents to support diagnostic testing to several countries and is preparing to do the same for surplus PPE.
  • Menarini converted a plant in Florence, which normally produces topical pharmaceuticals, into a plant producing antibacterial gels, fully used for donations across Italy. The antibacterial gel production started with a capacity of 5 tons of antibacterial gel per week, is now at 15 tons per week, and Menarini invested to expand to 30 tons per week. The donation program will last for the full duration of the pandemic emergency.
  • Merck, known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada, announced it has provided a half a million (500,000) personal protective masks to New York City for use as part of urgent efforts to address the outbreak in New York.
  • Merck will support its employees around the world who are uniquely qualified to provide medical services and wish to aid communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the U.S., Merck intends to collaborate with The Health Management Academy to identify facilities with the greatest need and triage potential qualifying volunteers to serve.
  • Pfizer created a new Global COVID-19 Medical Service Program that empowers medical colleagues to provide diagnostic, treatment, and public health support in the battle against COVID-19.
  • Servier actively contributes to the fight against the pandemic on the ground, through several initiatives such as providing personal protection equipment to hospitals in 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 who rely on them.
  • Takeda is donating $6.25 million to the American Red Cross, the city of Cambridge, and the town of Lexington to fight COVID-19. The Red Cross will receive $4 million to make sure the organization can maintain a sufficient blood supply during the health crisis. Takeda is donating $2 million to the Cambridge Mayor’s Relief Fund and $250,000 to the Lexington Emergency Assistance Fund to help families affected by the epidemic.

You can also find a list of donations made particularly across the United States by PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Initial support on the ground in China during the peak of the outbreak

  • Abbvie donated older antiviral drugs upon request from the Chinese government as an experimental option to support this growing public health crisis.
  • Bayer has made substantial financial contributions as well as donations of several medicines to the Chinese Red Cross which is working together with the Chinese health authorities.
  • Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) made financial donations to the Chinese Red Cross to purchase medical protective equipment as well as donations of medicines.
  • Bristol Myers Squibb Company and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation are committed to supporting communities deeply affected by COVID-19. To date, more than $5 million in financial support and needed products (i.e., personal protection equipment) has been provided to relief efforts in affected areas around the world, including Wuhan city and Hubei province (China).
  • CSL Limited donation of 1 million RMB to the China Red Cross in support of efforts to combat the epidemic.
  • Johnson & Johnson has provided boxes containing laboratory-based investigations to the Chinese Centre for Disease and Prevention, which includes drug-screening for antiviral properties against the novel coronavirus, and donated 300 boxes of HIV medication to the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center and Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University for use in research to support efforts in finding a solution against COVID-19.
  • Lilly China made a cash donation of one million yuan (approximately $150,000) to the Red Cross, and the Lilly Foundation donated an additional $100,000 to Direct Relief, a U.S. non-profit organization. Direct Relief has made multiple airlift shipments of personal protective equipment and supplies into China. In addition, the Lilly Foundation made a $150,000 donation to Project HOPE to help with their efforts in response to the Coronavirus.
  • Merck donated a total of $225,000 to Direct Relief, Project HOPE and Give2Asia, to support procurement and shipping of needed supplies to China, as well as aid for frontline health workers and hospitals. The company also donated ~$145,000 (one million RMB) to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation to support their ongoing response efforts.
  • Pfizer has made cash contributions to its global NGO partners who have shipped supplies to hospitals in China.
  • Pfizer Foundation has provided $500,000 in grants to support the provision of urgently needed aid and supplies to front-line healthcare workers. This grant funding supports urgent assistance by Direct Relief and Project HOPE, who are working with local partners on the ground to provide supplies and other support to healthcare workers and health systems in affected areas of China.
  • Roche donated diagnostics tests, medical supplies and financial support. Genentech, a member of the Roche group, 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.
  • Roche donated nearly $2m-worth of Actemra to China to help the country manage the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Servier China has actively deployed its resources and purchased protective material to support healthcare professionals fighting the epidemic. As of the 3rd of February, Servier China provided several hospitals in Shaanxi and Beijing with disinfectant and other protective products. On February 10th, Servier China announced a donation of RMB 1 million (~140 000€) to the Chinese Red Cross to help prevent and control the coronavirus epidemic. This donation will be used to support first-line medical staff in 12 designated hospitals in Wuhan.

IFPMA will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and will update this information accordingly.

Last updated: 3 April 2020.

The new strain of coronavirus, now named COVID-19, first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. By the end of January 2020, the virus spread to 19 countries and first confirmed human-to-human transmission outside of China were recorded. These developments led the WHO to declare a public health emergency of international concern. By March 9, nearly 110,000 cases were confirmed globally, affecting over 100 countries. On March 11, given the global spread of the virus with particularly escalating outbreaks in Iran and Italy, and sharp increases in other European countries, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

We monitor the supply chain

for medicines and are working to prevent and mitigate potential shortages

We provide

financial support

We provide support on the ground

in form of donations of medicines, personal protective gear & diagnostic test kits

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