PhRMA, BIO campaign champions members' determination to beat COVID-19

Together is better, especially when it comes to fighting COVID-19. That’s how pharma and biotech companies are working—and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) trade groups want everyone to know.

They've launched a co-sponsored print and digital campaign titled “Our Commitment to Beat Coronavirus” that lays out the six key steps biopharma companies are taking to combat the novel coronavirus. Those are: screening existing medicines for usefulness, putting top scientists on the case, sharing information with each other and government agencies, expanding manufacturing capabilities, donating supplies and medicine, and working to ensure any new treatments or vaccines are accessible and affordable.

Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of PhRMA, said the industry is uniquely prepared to combat COVID-19 thanks to decades of investing in technology, research and treatments.

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“The industry has invested billions in technologies that have dramatically shortened the time it takes to decode viruses and develop a potential vaccine; and our companies alone have the ability to manufacture and broadly disseminate vaccines or treatments,” he said in a news release.

Both BIO and PhRMA have set up dedicated pages on their websites for novel coronavirus industry updates and news.

While the hard work of biopharma researchers may raise the industry’s profile in this time of crisis, the industry is not immune to pushback. Several watchdog groups have already criticized the industry around COVID-19 or issued preemptive warnings about any potential medicines.

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Several groups this week latched onto Rising Pharmaceuticals' price hike—and reversal—on malaria drug and COVID-19 treatment contender chloroquine as a potential abuse that shouldn’t be tolerated. Rising told the Financial Times that the price increase was coincidental and quickly reversed once the company realized it might be useful in the COVID-19 fight. Bayer, Teva and Mylan have all pledged donations of the generic malaria drug and hydroxychloroquine, a more tolerable formulation.

Earlier this month, Public Citizen rallied 70 groups to join its plea to pressure President Donald Trump to not grant “monopolies on any coronavirus vaccines or treatments developed with government support."