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Pharmas to share assets in COVID-19 consortium led by Narasimhan, Gates

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Global alliances among public, private and non-profit entities to counter COVID-19 continue to gather steam, with one of the latest alliances comprising over a dozen life sciences companies and the Gates Foundation.

Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS; SIX:NOVN) unveiled Thursday the new consortium, which is co-chaired by CEO Vas Narasimhan and Bill Gates and aimed at speeding development, scaled-up manufacturing and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapies.

The companies, along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will contribute assets, resources and expertise. As an initial step, the companies have agreed to share compound libraries to share with the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. The Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust and Mastercard launched the accelerator March 10 (see “Gates, Wellcome Trust and Mastercard Commit $125M to COVID-19 Therapies”).

In addition to Novartis, the new consortium includes Becton Dickinson and Co. (NYSE:BDX); bioMérieux S.A. (Euronext:BIM); Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH; Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY); Eisai Co. Ltd. (Tokyo:4523); Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE:LLY); Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD); GlaxoSmithKline plc (LSE:GSK; NYSE:GSK); Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ); Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK); Merck KGaA (Xetra:MRK); Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and Sanofi (Euronext:SAN; NASDAQ:SNY).

The collaboration is distinct from a behind-the-scenes initiative in which R&D heads from at least 10 companies are developing an action plan to produce an industry-wide response aimed at accelerating new COVID-19 vaccines and therapies (see “Pharmas on One Page”).

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