Pharmas on one page with action plan to solve COVID-19 together

BioCentury is providing this story for free given the urgent need for information about the COVID-19 crisis.

A grand-scale behind-the-scenes effort by the pharmaceutical companies is under way to expedite the creation of therapies and vaccines to treat COVID-19.

According to the participants who spoke with BioCentury under conditions of anonymity, R&D heads from at least 10 companies have been gathering several times a week, setting in motion an action plan to use their top talent in different disciplines to produce an industry-wide response, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the private sector’s coordinated contribution during World War II.

Regulatory heads and manufacturing heads have been holding meetings as well, coordinating to minimize duplication of effort, streamline work and advance efficient testing of compounds and vaccines.

The R&D group is creating working principles to accelerate new COVID-19 therapies and vaccines agnostic to their market potential, eliminating bureaucratic and technical or scientific barriers, and focusing on filling gaps not adequately filled by other initiatives and which the consortium is uniquely suited to address.

The pharma group’s leaders also intend to offer resources to biotechs and academic groups pursuing countermeasures who may not want to join the effort but could benefit from expert guidance.

Flying the plane as they build it, the collaborators intend to create a clearing house of ideas for testing of molecules and vaccines, with working groups to vet the ideas and expedite testing on the most promising via clinical or preclinical testing.

According to the participants who spoke to BioCentury, the structure will probably evolve over time. Currently, the model involves five working groups, for clinical phase repurposing, novel small molecule antivirals, novel antibodies, preventive vaccines and preclinical repurposing. Each will be headed by a pharma R&D executive and will be responsible for prioritizing potential compounds and specifying actions.

Two platform groups will integrate across modalities: a clinical trial acceleration group and a data sharing group.

“This is not a time to think about proprietary information or IP or margins. We need to break down the barriers and solve the problem,” said one participant involved in the consortium.

Further analysis of the coronavirus crisis can be found at

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