UPDATED: Sanofi, Pfizer and AbbVie join roster of pharmas marshalling relief for Turkey and Syria after deadly quake

As rescue efforts continue in the wake of a cataclysmic earthquake on the border of Turkey and Syria, drugmakers near and far are rushing to offer aid.

Novartis and its generics arm Sandoz are putting up $1 million for the cause. At present, the companies are working to identify the right partners to “make sure this support gets to those most in need,” Novartis said in a press release.

Novartis also said it's in close contact with its local team to ensure the well-being of some 1,600 staffers and their families in the region. The Swiss drugmaker is further looking at ways to make sure its medicines reach patients in need.

Elsewhere, AbbVie is contributing $1 million to the International Medical Corps and Project HOPE. AbbVie says it will continue to match employee donations to eligible nonprofits, too. The company is also offering assistance to its colleagues and their families in the region. 

"As a global company of 50,000 strong, this tragedy affects us all deeply," AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez said in a recent LinkedIn post. He stressed that AbbVie will continue to work to ensure patients get the drugs they need, adding that the company is "responding to requests for donations of our essential medicines."

German conglomerate Bayer, for its part, will donate a total of 1.5 million euros to the affected regions.

Of that sum, 1 million euros will be used to offer “immediate aid” to Turkey through the disaster relief organizations Red Crescent and Ahbap. A further 200,000 euros will be sent to Syria by way of the German Red Cross. The company is also starting a global employee donation campaign, and Bayer will match up to 300,000 euros of giving.

Bayer is also offering paid volunteer hours to qualified staffers in the region, and it’s preparing product donations—of both medicines and agricultural products—based on its assessment of “most urgent needs.”

Turkish drugmakers are chipping in, too. Local pharma Türk Ilaç ve Serum Sanayi is donating 10,000 emergency medicines, including intravenous drips for use by relief efforts, Pharmaphorum points out.

Sanofi and Pfizer are pitching in as well.

"Following an assessment of needs, Sanofi has committed to an initial three-million-euro donation to be made through its Foundation," a company spokesperson told Fierce Pharma over email.

The company's pledge includes donations of essential medicines and vaccines and 2 million euros in emergency funding to local and global humanitarian organizations.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Ph.D., took to Twitter Thursday to announce the release of another $1 million to Red Cross/Red Crescent and the International Medical Corps. 

"Our global colleagues from dozens of countries have helped raise more than $175K to date through donations to The Pfizer Foundation, including matching gifts," Bourla said in a separate tweet. 

He noted the company has also sent aid in the form of 30,000 boxes of drugs and medical supplies. Pfizer continues to stay in close contact with its local colleagues and says it remains ready to respond to urgent requests for medicine, vaccines and other supplies.

Medical device and healthcare giant Abbott is helping out the cause, too. The company is pledging $1.5 million in cash support and product donations to support relief efforts in Turkey and the surrounding region, a company spokesperson told Fierce Pharma.

The company is also working with Direct Relief to distribute emergency medicines and medical supplies, plus the International Medical Corps, which is helping provide antibiotics, trauma-related supplies and more to health facilities in affected areas. 

More than 21,000 people have died and tens of thousands have been injured following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Turkey and Syria Monday.

In some ways, the galvanization of drugmakers such as Novartis and Bayer resembles industry efforts last year to assist Ukraine following the intensification of Russia’s war in the region. After Russia launched a widescale invasion late last February, pharmas like Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, AbbVie and Pfizer pared back their operations in the aggressor country and, in some cases, pledged any profits made there to humanitarian relief.

Editor’s note: This story was updated Feb. 15, 2023, with comments from AbbVie, and on Feb. 13, 2023, with comments from Abbott. This story was first updated Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, with comments from Pfizer and Sanofi. Is your company assisting with relief efforts in Turkey and Syria? Let us know at [email protected], and we’ll update this story.