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COVID-19 Response: Supporting the frontline

Stephen J. Ubl   |     March 30, 2020   |   SHARE THIS

Updated 7/13/2020

In these unprecedented times, America’s biopharmaceutical companies are coming together to achieve one shared goal: to combat COVID-19, a disease caused by a novel strain of coronavirus. Our companies are working around the clock to research and develop new vaccines and treatments, as well as testing existing medicines to help those infected with the virus. In addition, our companies are committed to supporting health care workers who are on the frontlines and communities around the world affected by COVID-19.

Here is a closer look at ways our companies are contributing beyond testing, research and development:

Medical Supplies and PPE Donations

Personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies are critically important to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect our health care workforce. The following are some examples of donations our companies are making in response to urgent calls for needed equipment and supplies: 

  • Alexion: Lab equipment and instruments to enable hospital laboratories in diagnostics testing, sample preparation and research. This will help laboratories in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island meet the challenge of diagnosing and treating patients with COVID-19.

  • Astellas: Coordinating opportunities to mobilize equipment, PPE donations, blood donations in alignment with CDC guidance, employee contributions, and volunteerism to meet the critical demand for time and resources where needs are most pressing.

  • AstraZeneca: 9 million face masks to support heath care workers around the world.

  • Bayer: In Germany, Providing hospitals with ventilators from its pharmacology labs and needed masks for health care workers.

  • Biogen: Medical equipment and supplies to Partners HealthCare in Massachusetts.

  • Boehringer Ingelheim: 100,000 protective masks to medical staff in hospitals.

  • Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) and the BMS Foundation: Funds for PPEs for front line health care workers, supporting patient advocacy organizations and accelerating grant distributions to small community-based organizations that serve vulnerable populations.

  • Eisai Inc.: PPE to Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey and the Kaiser Health System in California.

  • EMD Serono: Products to support local institutions and invitro diagnostic manufacturers to accelerate research, as well as virus diagnosis and testing efforts and personal protective equipment.

  • Genentech, a member of the Roche Group: Medical supplies and diagnostic tests.

  • GlaxoSmithKline: Surplus reagents to countries to support diagnostic testing, preparing to do the same for surplus 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.

  • Incyte: Incyte has made several contributions, including: supplies, including PPE, from Incyte’s laboratories in Wilmington, DE, have been donated to local Delaware hospitals; a donation to the Food Bank of Delaware to cover the costs of increased food distribution and pre-made weekend meal kits; Incyte Italy has made a donation to fund the purchase of hospital equipment and goods to support patients, hospitals, healthcare facilities and providers in the critically affected Lombardy region; and along with other companies, Incyte supported The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society COVID-19 Patient Financial Aid program, aimed at providing financial assistance to eligible patients for food, non-medical and other day-to-day expenses that may arise due to loss of income.

  • Johnson and Johnson: Over $3.7 million in PPE for frontline health workers, including goggles, protective suits and masks.

  • Merck: 500,000 personal protective masks to New York City health authorities and 300,000 masks for New Jersey.
  • Otsuka: Otsuka employees have also mobilized to secure and deliver critical personal protective equipment (PPE) to local health organizations in greatest need. To date, Otsuka has donated more than 3,000 pieces of PPE equipment, including 2,360 medical grade N95 respirator masks, to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management and directly to frontline and hardest hit hospitals such as Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ.

  • Sanofi: Protective suits, goggles, masks, gloves and disinfection equipment (1 million RMB worth) to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation. Sanofi Pasteur China donated virus testing devices (throat swabs) worth 500 thousand RMB to Hubei Provincial CDC - Center for Diseases Control and prevention.
  • Sunovion Pharmaceuticals: Donated medical supplies and resources to the Massachusetts health care institutions, in partnership with MassBio, so that they can continue to test and treat patients with COVID-19. The Company donated cases of PPE including respirators, masks, safety goggles and gloves, as well as protective suits, gowns and shoe covers. In New Jersey, Sunovion donated safety masks to the Office of Emergency Management for distribution to the health care system. In Canada, Sunovion has joined forces with Innovative Medicines Canada to set up a COVID-19 fund to support the most urgent needs and communities across the country, beginning with a shipment of safety masks for front-line health care providers.

  • Takeda: Supporting hospitals in Massachusetts and California as well as in ‘hot spots’ across the U.S. in their response to COVID-19 with much needed protective equipment, lab instruments and supplies.

  • UCB: Materials such as hydro-alcoholic solution which the company has already begun producing at its major manufacturing sites that will go to health care authorities in Belgium and Switzerland. Protective garments and goggles to designated hospitals in China and masks and goggles to the Belgian health care authorities and local hospitals.
 

Existing Treatments and Medicines

Our companies are also offering donations of existing medicines that may be effective in treating patients with the virus, such as:

  • Alexion: SOLIRIS as an experimental emergency treatment for a small number of patients with COVID-19 infection and severe pneumonia.

  • Bayer: 3 million tablets of the drug Resochin[i] (chloroquine phosphate) and other medicines including an antibiotic.

  • EMD Serono: 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.[ii]

  • Johnson and Johnson: Product donations to countries, including South Korea, China, Italy and more.

  • Novartis: Up to 130 million doses of generic hydroxychloroquine to support the global COVID-19 pandemic response.[iii]

  • Pfizer: Select antibiotics to Direct Relief to manage complications related to COVID-19.

  • Teva: 10 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets through wholesalers to hospitals across the United States.

Monetary and In-Kind Support

In addition, our companies are donating millions of dollars (among other currencies) and in-kind support to support organizations at the heart of the crisis that directly impact infected patients and communities. The following are a few examples:  

  • AbbVie: $35 million to help support underserved communities and health care systems across the globe. The donation will support the growing needs of International Medical Corps, Direct Relief and Feeding America both in the U.S. and globally, and also support organizations bolstering community resilience in under-resourced areas.

  • Astellas and Astellas Global Health Foundation: Up to $2 million of new financial assistance, in aggregate, to meet the urgent demand for resources to help patients, health care workers and first responders for global and local communities fighting COVID-19.

  • Alexion: Supporting the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Americares, and The UN Foundation’s fund for WHO via The Alexion Charitable Foundation. The Alexion Charitable Foundation is actively working with one or more of these organizations to support on the ground efforts in Italy.

  • Alkermes: Donations to local organizations that serve populations who will be disproportionally impacted by COVID-19, like charities that focus on delivering food and support for low-income families and children, as well as seniors.

  • Amgen and the Amgen Foundation: $12.5 million to support U.S. and global relief efforts to address critical needs in communities impacted by COVID-19. Donations have gone to launch launched LabXchange, a free online science education platform that provides users access to personalized instruction, virtual lab experiences and networking opportunities across the global scientific community. As the founding sponsor, the Amgen Foundation awarded $11.5 million in grant funding to Harvard to deepen the impact of this new online learning platform across the globe. The Amgen Foundation is also the founding biology partner of the Khan Academy, a leading innovative and effective educational technology platform with over 70 million registered users across the globe. Free online learning programs supported through both of these deep relationships are available to help students continue their science education during school closures, and can be accessed via the LabXchange and Khan Academy’s online learning websites.

    Bayer: €1 million to support hospitals in Lombardy, Italy and made additional donations to the Chinese Red Cross. Bayer has also made a $250,000 commitment to the Berkeley Relief Fund, an initiative by the Berkeley, California, City Council to provide emergency relief grants for small businesses, nonprofit arts organizations and worker rent support.

  • Biogen: $10 million committed by the Biogen Foundation to support global response efforts and communities around the world impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • BioMarin: In-kind donations of lab equipment, products required for testing and safety glasses in Alameda, Marin and San Francisco Counties. 

  • Boehringer Ingelheim: $1 million to the China Red Cross Foundation to purchase medical protective materials for hospitals.

  • Bristol Myers Squibb & Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation: More than $6 million in financial support including $2.5 million to human service organizations and patient support groups that are providing food services, critical education and aid to vulnerable populations in communities around the U.S. It has also partnered in 10 countries such as China, Italy and Spain in their response with more provided every day.

  • Eisai Inc.: Funds to fast-acting patient advocacy organizations who are getting relief to patients in need.

  • Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly): Donations to address new and complex challenges arising from the coronavirus, including the economic impact on vulnerable people. This includes participation in the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund, monetary donations to relief efforts around the world through organizations such as the Red Cross, Direct Relief, and Project HOPE, and product donations. Additionally, Lilly scientists are partnering with the Indiana State Department of Health, with support from the FDA, to accelerate testing in Indiana for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Lilly has also launched a drive-through testing facility at its corporate headquarters for active front-line health care workers and Indianapolis first responders, as a service to the community and in an effort to protect people working on the front lines of this epidemic. Lilly will not accept payment from government agencies, hospitals, insurance companies or patients for conducting or analyzing tests.

  • EMD Serono: Multiple donation efforts in direct contributions and in-kind to three well respected local charitable organizations in China 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.

  • Genentech, a member of the Roche Group: Genentech and the Genentech Foundation have announced charitable commitments of $42 million to help address the devastating societal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are working closely with government organizations, patient and community groups, health systems and schools to identify the areas of greatest need, build resiliency and address emerging equity gaps. Learn more about Genentech’s response to COVID-19 here.

  • GlaxoSmithKline: $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.

  • Johnson and Johnson: In January 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced support of frontline health workers through the Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation, committing $250M over 10 years. The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies and the Johnson & Johnson Foundation are increasing that commitment by $50M for immediate COVID-19 response, primarily focused on supporting frontline health workers.

  • Lundbeck: A significant donation to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund to support nonprofit organizations working directly to respond to the pandemic among the most vulnerable populations.

  • Novartis: $20 million in grants from the Novartis COVID-19 Response Fund will provide to support public health initiatives designed to help communities manage challenges posed by the pandemic. The company and the Novartis US Foundation have also established USD 5 million US COVID-19 Community Response Fund for immediate response and recovery efforts related to the pandemic. 

  • Otsuka: Otsuka employees have also mobilized to secure and deliver critical personal protective equipment (PPE) to local health organizations in greatest need. To date, Otsuka has donated more than 3,000 pieces of PPE equipment, including 2,360 medical grade N95 respirator masks, to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management and directly to frontline and hardest hit hospitals such as Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ.

  • Pfizer: $500,000 grant in the United States from the Pfizer Foundation to International Medical Corps. The funding will support the provision of urgently needed supplies to front-line health care workers, provide training and deploy medical strike teams. In China, the Pfizer Foundation has provided $500,000 in grants to support the provision of urgently needed aid and supplies to front-line health care 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 health care workers and health systems in affected areas of China. The company and the Pfizer Foundation have also announced the commitment of $40 million in medical and charitable cash grants to help combat the global health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and around the world. The donation addresses the urgent needs of partners who are working to slow the spread of the virus within communities and strengthen vulnerable health care systems against future public health threats. Pfizer is also responding to patient and health care provider needs during this unprecedented time by evolving its U.S. Patient Assistance Program and donating additional critical medicines and vaccines in the U.S. and around the world.

  • Sanofi: $450,000 to humanitarian aid organizations who are working on the frontlines and with the free health clinics across the U.S., and to community organizations helping those in need.

  • Sunovion Pharmaceuticals: A significant donation to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) COVID-19 Response Fund. This fund supports nonprofit organizations responding to the pandemic among the most vulnerable populations, as well as preparedness, containment, response and recovery activities for those affected and for the responders. In the U.S., Sunovion has also partnered with its food service vendor to provide food donations to the United Way of Tri-County and has provided financial support to the Greater Boston Food Bank and Community Foodbank of New Jersey, which have a key role in distributing food and grocery products to member agencies that serve people experiencing food insecurity throughout their respective communities. In the UK, Sunovion has delivered food donations to a food bank in London.

  • Takeda: More than $6.25 million to organizations in the United States to help those impacted by the Coronavirus and to help enable organizations to continue helping the communities they serve.

These monetary and in-kind contributions have already proven to help frontline health care workers – both in the United States and globally – stay safe and healthy while caring for those affected by COVID-19.

Read more about how the industry is working to beat coronavirus here.


[i] New data, while limited, shows potential for the use of Resochin in treating patients with #COVID19 infection.

[ii] To date, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s interferon beta-1a is not approved by any regulatory authority for the treatment of COVID-19 or for use as an antiviral agent.  The biopharma business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operates as EMD Serono in the U.S. and Canada.

[iii] Hydroxychloroquine and a related medicine, chloroquine, are currently under evaluation in clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19.

Stephen J. Ubl

Stephen J. Ubl Stephen J. Ubl is president and chief executive officer of PhRMA. Mr. Ubl leads PhRMA’s work preserving and strengthening a health care and economic environment that encourages medical innovation, new drug discovery and access to life-saving medicines. Ubl is recognized around the world as a leading health care advocate and policy expert who collaborates successfully with diverse stakeholder groups – including patient and physician groups, regulators, public and private payers, and global trade organizations – to help ensure timely patient access to innovative treatments and cures.

Topics: Research and Development, PhRMA Member Company, Clinical Trials, Infectious Diseases, Coronavirus

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