One of the memes we’ve noticed on social media the last few days is the quotation from Mr. Rogers where he reminded scared and anxious children to “look for the helpers.” We took that advice to heart this week and have outlined below how various U.S. sectors are rallying to beat COVID-19.
We also appreciated Forbes contributor Grace-Marie Turner’s recent column, which said, “While this is a frightening time in so many ways, innovation has demonstrated innumerable times throughout history justified confidence and faith in the ‘invisible hand,’ from the private sector’s transformative power in winning World War II to putting out oil well fires in Kuwait after being sabotaged at the end of the Gulf War in 1991.” In The Hill, Gonzalo Schwarz, president and CEO of the Archbridge Institute, also discusses how human ingenuity will help overcome this crisis.
We may not be on the frontlines of this crisis, but we’d love to help you understand how the biopharmaceutical industry is working to address it. If you need more info for a story, or have questions, please email us.
We look forward to working with you.
Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director
Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
- When threats like #COVID19 become pandemics, the importance of innovative biopharmaceuticals is put into perspective. Many U.S. drug companies are working nonstop to quickly develop treatments for the virus. #Innovation #Patients Click here to RT.
- Great article by Dr. Elizabeth Nabel of @BrighamWomens on the importance of private medical #innovation and #research: “often, it’s the small, venture-backed biomedical companies” that generate meaningful treatment options for #patients. https://bit.ly/2vUCpuK Click here to RT.
- Exciting news from @PhRMA: there has been a 20% increase in cell and gene therapy development since 2018–exactly 362 therapies are in clinical development today, which will help treat #musculardystrophy, #hemophilia, and #myeloma. https://onphr.ma/2WRn4WC Click here to RT.
THE STORIES THAT DIDN’T GET ENOUGH ATTENTION
Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:
- Rallying Resources For COVID-19.S. industry—from manufacturers to the biopharmaceutical community—are working together to stem the tide of COVID-19, treat patients, and find cures. Learn exactly how. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.
- Jumping To Meet The Threat Of COVID-19. Our look from early March about how biopharmaceutical companies are working to quickly develop treatments or vaccines. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Abbie Opens Doors For Generic HIV Drug. STAT News reports AbbVie has waived restrictions on licenses held by a nonprofit for its Kaletra HIV pill so that other companies can supply the medicine anywhere in the world. As part of the decision, the drug maker will no longer enforce patent rights relating to adults or children.
- Rallying To Find A COVID-19 Vaccine. Bloomberg reports that Eli Lilly & Co. and AbCellera Biologics Inc. are “investigating how antibodies could halt the transmission of COVID-19” and “are partnering on developing an experimental therapy for the virus.” Moderna also is working on a vaccine. Pfizer has outlined a five-point plan to combat COVID-19 while, according to STAT News, Regeneron might have hundreds of potential COVID-19 drugs and could enter clinical trials by early summer. CNBC reports Johnson & Johnson hopes to start human trials on a vaccine by November. The S. Chamber of Commerce is tracking all business efforts to address the pandemic, including the efforts of pharmaceutical companies. STAT News also is tracking all new drug developments, and that information is here. PhRMA is tracking developments as well.
- Can Malaria Drug Be Used To Treat COVID-19? According to STAT News: “Mylan (MYL) and Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) plan to jumpstart production of hydroxychloroquine, which is also approved for treating lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. … The drug has taken on new life in recent weeks after several studies indicated it may show promise as a weapon to fight Covid-19, prompting some doctors to write prescriptions. As a result, Trump administration officials want to move quickly to determine whether the drug — and a closely related medicine called chloroquine — can be effective.” Reuters has more on this story.
- From Orlando, Fla.: Partnership To Prevent Or Treat COVID-19. In a press release from March 20, Immune Therapeutics, Inc., a late-stage clinical biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of highly innovative therapies for use in oncology, immunology, and anti-inflammatory disease announced collaboration with Cytocom, Inc. to “fast-track approval using Lodonal as a way to prevent or treat COVID-19 in high-risk groups who are infected with 2019-nCoV at clinical research centers across the country.”
- Hope Coming From Georgia Too. The Atlanta Journal Constitution explains how researchers at Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory is showing “strong results in animal testing [for a drug to fight] against influenza and coronaviruses.” The newspaper says “researchers are working around the clock to prepare the drug as a treatment for the novel coronavirus. They hope to begin testing in April.”
- Takeda Working On Treatment For High-Risk Individuals. According to Ramona Sequeira, president of Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc., the company is “developing an anti-SARS-CoV-2 polyclonal hyperimmune globulin (H-IG) to treat high-risk individuals with COVID-19, which we’re calling TAK-888. Hyperimmune globulin is a plasma-derived therapy that has previously been shown to be effective in the treatment of severe acute viral respiratory infections and could be a treatment option for patients with COVID-19. We’re collaborating with several health and regulatory agencies and health care partners across the globe to move the research forward.”
- New Hope For Patients With Acute Myeloid Leukemia. BioPharma Dive reports, “A cancer drug from Roche and AbbVie, when combined with a commonly used chemotherapy, kept previously untreated patients with acute myeloid leukemia alive and in remission longer than chemo alone.”
- Parents Of Children With Cystic Fibrosis: Don’t Let ICER Have Control. In an op-ed in the New York Post Boomer Esiason and Mary Vought warn against giving too much control over drug prices to the Arnold-funded Institute for Clinical and Economic Review. The two write: “As parents of cystic fibrosis patients, we see obvious problems with the ICER approach. First, its QALY formula discounts the value, and the inherent worth, of individuals with disabilities. Our children deserve the right to a future just as much as other Americans—yet the QALY measure values their wellbeing less than ‘healthy’ Americans. In fact, the National Council on Disability released a report last fall, noting that, ‘QALY-based programs have been found to violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.’”
- Pharmacists: Drug Importation Poses “Unacceptable Safety Risks.” Politico reported last week that “Seven major pharmacy groups banded together to write that ‘importation poses unacceptable safety risks to our supply chain and our patients.’” Politico says the groups also believe the savings outlined in Florida’s and Vermont’s importation plans are “dubious.” Additionally, the Healthcare Distribution Alliance has “grave doubts” about the Trump administration’s plan. Regulatory Focus has more on opposition to the plan.
QUOTATIONS OF THE WEEK
Stephen J. Ubl, president and chief executive officer of PhRMA:
“I’m confident our industry will achieve its shared goal to beat coronavirus, and our commitment underscores how we are uniquely positioned to do so. We have deep scientific knowledge gained from decades of experience with similar viruses; the industry has invested billions in technologies that have dramatically shortened the time it takes to decode viruses and develop a potential vaccine; and our companies alone have the ability to manufacture and broadly disseminate vaccines or treatments.”
Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO:
“Researchers at America’s biopharmaceutical companies are working around the clock to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and deliver treatments to those impacted by this deadly disease. … Today, we renew our commitment as an industry to help those in need, protect our workforce, and ensure any treatments we develop in response to this pandemic are accessible and affordable for everyone. These are the principles that always guide our industry, and they serve as the foundation for our response to this global health crisis.”