News Article

Innovative Medicine Initiative Against COVID-19

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 03/25/2020 - 10:41

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) has announced that there are 13 pharmaceutical companies joining efforts to find a treatment for COVID-19. The Call 21 Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI) is the biggest public-private collaboration ever seen in the healthcare industry and has set a deadline to find a treatment on March 31, 2020.

Big Pharma companies such as Roche, Novartis and Pfizer are participating in this €45 million (US$48.8 million) program, 50 percent financed by the European Commission (EC), while the rest is covered by these 13 European companies. The EC’s contribution is expected to be used by colleges and small-medium pharma companies that are also joining their efforts to find a solution to the crisis.

IMI was created in 2008 as a way of supporting collaborative research to improve the entire pharmaceutical development process and make it more efficient, accelerating patient access to better and safer medicines. Currently, IMI has 149 open research projects and a long list of success stories, including vaccine development, clinical trials, storage and transport and diagnostics for the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Nathalie Moll, Director General of EFPIA, the organism in charge of integrating the Big Pharma companies in Europe, said “this is an unprecedented collaboration, which includes companies that are not traditionally involved in the field of infectious diseases and that want to share molecules that may have an anti-COVID-19 effect.” EFPIA companies are currently exploring around 30 antiviral drugs at various stages of development or use to see if they are effective in treating patients with COVID-19. The federation is also working on laboratory diagnostics for the detection of carriers and asymptomatic individuals.

On a recent article published by NASDAQ, it was said that developing a cure for COVID-19 could take up to 18 months, which is why researches are testing existing therapies for other illnesses as treatment options for this pandemic. Example of the existing treatments being explored as an option are Gilead Sciences’ Ebola treatment Remdesivir, Sanofi’s malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, Roche's rheumatoid arthritis drug Tocilizumab Actemra and Regeneron Pharma's rheumatoid arthritis drug Kevzara. None of these treatments have yielded results, which is why most hopes and investment are put on developing a new treatment for COVID-19.

News going around this morning about French scientists successfully testing a COVID-19 drug have not yet been confirmed or further explained.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst