Biopharma Companies Unveiled its “multi-pronged” Response Coronavirus

05 February 2020

GMP News

As the novel coronavirus spreads around China and beyond, biopharma companies are responding with new R&D programs, donations and measures to protect employees. So far, the virus has infected more than 7,700 people and caused 170 deaths.

Johnson & Johnson unveiled its “multi-pronged” response that includes a vaccine R&D effort in a “skunkworks” in the Netherlands, according to Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels. It’s also testing whether existing medicines could tackle the novel virus and donating antiviral drugs to Chinese hospitals.

Meanwhile, AbbVie’s HIV drug Kaletra was plucked out by Chinese authorities for use against the pneumonia triggered by the novel virus. AbbVie in turn announced a $1.5 million donation of the drug.

Moderna Therapeutics and Inovio are scrambling to develop vaccines of their own, and local outbreak preparedness group CEPI has pledged funding for their early-stage efforts. The group formed in response to prior outbreaks and has doled out hundreds of millions of dollars for outbreak prep efforts. Inovio and Moderna are only two of the early vaccine efforts that have been announced; Moderna believes its mRNA vaccine technology could “serve as a rapid and flexible platform” to respond to emerging pathogens, including the new coronavirus.

From afar, it can sound like the whole of China has been overtaken by the outbreak of the novel and deadly coronavirus, but Chinese CDMO WuXi Biologics offered some reassurance: It’ll continue to supply the critical drugs it produces for markets around the world. The contractor said its workforce and operations are unaffected, and it’s “working vigilantly to execute our Business Continuity Plan to mitigate any potential risk” and ensure its products are unaffected by the outbreak.

For its part, Roche is running into logistical trouble, thanks to the numerous Chinese cities in lockdown mode. The travel barriers have proven a complication for delivering diagnostic kits, the company said. Meanwhile, China just approved several new diagnostic kits from Sansure Biotech to help detect cases.

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