The healthcare supply channel is dependent on drug manufacturers and their innovation and production. Representing 3 of the major biopharmaceutical companies, Dr Gerberding, Mr Morrissey, and Mr Dozier discussed the drug manufacturers’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, announcing a recent collaboration in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
Through the “first care responders” program, these 3 companies are encouraging their employee clinicians to volunteer on the front lines in hospitals, where their clinical skills can help to care for patients during this crisis. The companies will pay the salaries of their employees who donate time to the effort.
“There is no silver lining to coronavirus, but in some sense, this is a real opportunity for the biopharmaceutical industry to step up to the plate and be the very best we can be,” said Dr Gerberding.
According to Dr Gerberding, the first priorities at Merck are ensuring the safety of its employees, sustaining the supply of medicines and vaccines, and taking care of patients enrolled in clinical trials.
Dr Gerberding noted the unprecedented response to the pandemic crisis, with clinical trials already off the ground, and that there has never been a more rapid mobilization to find treatments and vaccines. She added that Merck’s contribution is not limited to scientific interventions, and that the company has donated items such as 500,000 N95 masks to hard-hit areas in New York and New Jersey.
Mr Morrissey said that Pfizer has not seen a disruption in the supply of medicines they manufacture, and in fact, the company has stepped up its shipping. In addition, Pfizer has undertaken initiatives to relieve pressure on the supply system.
Through its “5 Promises,” Pfizer is also committed to encouraging scientific innovation in the field and vows to help smaller companies with promising therapies or vaccines scale up production to meet demand and get the medications to as many patients as possible.
Mr Dozier said that Lilly also has an effort underway to prevent undue stress on the system. Lilly has paused most of its clinical trials programs, with the exception of some pivotal trials, and pulled its sales force from the field early on.
Mr Dozier said that the goal at Lilly Oncology is to make sure that patients have access to their medicines and that they are affordable.
“The focus at Lilly has been on finding solutions and bringing them to bear quickly,” said Mr Dozier.