The unison of competing pharmaceutical companies is inherently contradictory to the ethos of capitalism. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. As evidenced by the recent unification of pharmaceutical companies, we are clearly living in desperate times. Some of biopharma’s top entities are now joining forces to bolster the industry’s efforts to combat COVID-19.
Big Pharma Gets Even Bigger
Biopharma power players such as Pfizer and Novartis are unifying with a joint response to win the ongoing battle against coronavirus. However, the big pharma alliance is not limited to these two companies. Several more industry players are now sharing essential proprietary compound libraries to mitigate the human toll of COVID-19 and hopefully defeat the virus altogether. This is quite the rare corporate alliance that puts cooperation ahead of competition.
Big Problems Require Big Money
Bill Gates, the second richest person in the world, is lending financial support to the world’s top pharmaceutical companies to thwart COVID-19. The heads of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently conducted a conference call with bio pharma power brokers that culminated in the decision to share key components of previously private compound libraries.
All in all, 15 pharmaceutical companies committed to sharing parts of their libraries, each of which has a proven element of relevant safety and activity data. The Gates Foundation, working by way of the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, established the effort with the assistance of Mastercard and Wellcome. Each of the pharmaceutical compound libraries will be thoroughly screened in the quest to identify compounds with the potential to combat COVID-19.
The hope is that one or several drugs provide promise. If any such drug appears to be effective against the pathogen, it will be shifted directly to in vivo testing across the next two months.
Putting the Collective Interest Ahead of Self Interest
Capitalists have historically scoffed at the notion of big pharma companies – or any competing companies – working in tandem, sacrificing private profit for the pursuit of collective gain. This seemingly impossible arrangement has quickly come to fruition, shining the spotlight on the power of human collaboration in the overarching pursuit of our collective interest as a species.
The likes of Sanofi, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson will provide their assets in the battle to beat COVID-19 and return life to at least a semblance of normalcy. These massive corporate entities will have extensive support from organizations that have proven their ability to advance and properly scale key compounds.
Information about the big pharma collaboration was released on the same day a BioCentury report revealed the research and development leaders of nearly a dozen biopharma businesses had met to establish a coordinated response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The collaboration has been divided into five unique working groups, each zeroed in on a specific objective. The focuses are as follows:
- Clinical-phase re-purposing
- Preclinical re-purposing
- Novel antibodies
- Novel small-molecule antivirals
- Preventive vaccines
An Inside Look at the Collaborative Effort to Combat COVID-19
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s director of public affairs, Andrew Powaleny, recently provided some insight about the meetings detailed above. Powaleny detailed the Gates Foundation initiative as well as the somewhat surprising unison between biopharma players and other organizations pitching in to beat COVID-19. He made it clear the collaboration has quickly become a global effort. Powaleny detailed the importance of enlisting the assistance of innovative biopharma companies to coordinate with governments and diagnostic partners across the globe.
Powaleny describes the overarching aim of the collaborative effort as follows:
- Enhance COVID-19 testing capabilities
- Boost capacity
- Quickly sift through extensive global medicine libraries to pinpoint the optimal treatments
It is hoped this joint effort will quickly result in the development of new, highly effective therapies for those infected by COVID-19. A truly successful collaborative effort will ultimately result in a vaccine that wards off subsequent coronavirus infections across posterity.