By the middle of May there were more than 1,000 clinical trials ongoing with over 150 treatments being tested.
Pharmaceutical companies are prioritising research and development of COVID-19 related diagnostics, treatments, health technologies and vaccines, as well as looking at the potential of existing treatments.
AbbVie is partnering with global authorities to determine the effectiveness of HIV drugs in treating COVID-19. AbbVie is supporting clinical studies and basic research, working closely with European health authorities and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to coordinate these efforts.
Alexion, a global biopharmaceutical company focused on serving patients and families with rare and devastating disorders, has initiated a Phase III clinical trial of one of its medicines in hospitalised adult patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). NHS centres are also conducting their own clinical trial with this Alexion medicine.
Alexion and Lilly are working with the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre and the Cambridge Clinical Trials Unit as they test whether two drugs that are already in use to treat other immune-related conditions can prevent the development of severe COVID-19 infection. The partnership will ensure that, if either is successful, production is ready to be scaled up to ensure that there is a suitable supply available to treat those who need it.
Amgen and Adaptive Biotechnologies (Seattle, USA) are partnering to combine expertise to discover and develop fully human neutralizing antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2 to potentially prevent or treat COVID-19.
Boehringer Ingelheim has a growing team of more than 100 scientists from all areas of research and development (R&D) who have contributed to projects aimed at finding potential treatment solutions for COVID-19.
Most of the projects are part of larger collaborative efforts with academia, biotech and other pharma companies. Among them is a call by the Innovative Medicines Initiative of the EU (IMI), to which Boehringer Ingelheim is planning to commit in excess of 11,000 work hours in R&D.
The company also joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation COVID-19 Therapeutic Accelerator. In addition, Boehringer Ingelheim supports scientists worldwide with its open innovation portal opnMe.com, which offers 6 anti-viral compounds out of 43 high quality pharmacological tool compounds at no cost for pre-clinical testing of research hypotheses.
As this work evolves, the company will commit further experts from multiple disciplines, as well as increased lab capacity.
Eisai has joined the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator initiative, initiated by the Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard, to speed up the development of therapeutics, but also vaccines and diagnostics for COVID-19.
Eli Lilly and AbCellera have entered into an agreement to co-develop antibody products for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. The collaboration will use AbCellera’s rapid pandemic response platform, developed under the DARPA Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) Program, and Lilly’s global capabilities for rapid development, manufacturing and distribution of therapeutic antibodies.
Eli Lilly has also entered into an agreement with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to study one of their medicines as a potential treatment for hospitalized patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The medicine is approved in more than 65 countries as a treatment for adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis.
Eli Lilly is also working with BenevolentAI to use their artificial intelligence capability to understand how one of Lilly's medicines may help treat coronavirus.
Johnson & Johnson. In partnership with the Rega Institute for Medical Research, University of Leuven (Belgium), J&J are also working to identify existing or new compounds with antiviral activity against COVID-19 that could contribute to providing immediate relief to the current outbreak.
Pfizer announced that it completed a preliminary assessment of certain antiviral compounds that were previously in development and that inhibited the replication of coronaviruses similar to the one causing COVID-19 in cultured cells. Pfizer is engaging with a third party to screen these compounds under an accelerated timeline and expects to have the results back by the end of March.
Novartis is rapidly evaluating existing products to see if any could be utilized beyond their approved indications in response to the pandemic. It has announced a 440 person study in the US to determine if its malaria drug can effectively treat COVID-19.
Novartis announced plans to initiate a Phase III clinical trial to study canakinumab in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. The company aims to rapidly enroll 450 patients at multiple medical centers across France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK and the US.
Novartis is co-chairing the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator initiative, initiated by the Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard, to speed of the development of therapeutics, but also vaccines and diagnostics for COVID-19.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi SA started a clinical program in patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19.
UCB is working with the US-based Seattle Structural Genomics Center for Infectious Disease to identify crystal structures of SARS-CoV-2 proteins. It is also partnering with UK-based Diamond Light Source and The University of Oxford to design inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2’s main protease for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
It is also working with government agencies and the healthcare community to determine if any of their therapies could be used effectively against COVID-19.
Astellas is providing compounds in response to a request from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan to cooperate in the “Basic Screening Plan for Drugs for Coronavirus Disease”. They are also responding to requests from EFPIA and the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) to cooperate in “Activities Aimed at Developing Drugs for the Novel Virus” and providing consultation on countermeasures.
AstraZeneca's Research and development teams have been working expeditiously to identify monoclonal antibodies to progress towards clinical trial evaluation as a treatment to prevent COVID-19.
More than 50 virology, immunology, respiratory, and protein engineering experts across research, clinical, regulatory, and manufacturing are placing the highest priority on developing a treatment to minimise the global impact of the disease.
AstraZeneca will initiate a randomised, global clinical trial to assess the potential a treatment of the exaggerated immune response (cytokine storm) associated with COVID-19 infection in severely ill patients.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has joined the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator initiative, initiated by the Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard, to speed up the development of therapeutics, but also vaccines and diagnostics for COVID-19.
BMS identified 1,000 compounds in its discovery library that they are making available to collaborators for screening for potential treatments for COVID-19. BMS is actively evaluating certain medicines in its portfolio that could be included in near-term clinical trials with a focus on agents impacting the inflammatory immune response associated with COVID-19.
EFPIA is working with the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) on potential actions to support collaborative research programs in order to fast-track the development of therapeutics.
GSK is entering into the new collaborative research effort, the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. The aim of the Accelerator is to bring pharmaceutical companies and expert academic institutions into coordinated research programs, with the aim of bringing the most promising molecules forward that could be used to treat cases of COVID-19.
GSK will contribute by making available compounds from its libraries for screening for activity against COVID-19. In addition, GSK is evaluating its marketed pharmaceutical products and medicines in development to determine if any could be used beyond their current indications in response to the pandemic.
Further, GSK is evaluating options to make available specialised laboratory space to help in research and testing of COVID-19.
MSD As a company dedicated to saving and improving lives, MSD recognises it has a special responsibility to help. MSD remains focused on protecting the safety of its employees and their families, ensuring the supply and manufacture of medicines and vaccines for patients and populations, contributing scientific expertise to the development of antiviral approaches, and supporting healthcare providers and the communities in which they serve.
To support this focus, MSD is studying potential antiviral therapies that could be deployed more rapidly, in addition to evaluating compounds in their laboratories. They have also identified programmes in other laboratories that could prove beneficial and have announced that they are participating in a new research collaboration with the Institute for Systems Biology in the US to investigate and define the molecular mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 and identify targets for medicines and vaccines.
They are also in collaboration with the NIH-led Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV consortium). It aims to develop a collaborative framework for prioritising vaccine and drug candidates, streamlining clinical trials and regulatory processes, and/or leveraging assets among all partners to rapidly respond to the COVID-19 and future pandemics.
Pfizer also outlined a detailed 5-point action plan to battle COVID-19. The plan includes a commitment to sharing its clinical development and regulatory expertise to support other smaller biotech companies that are screening compounds or existing therapies for activity against the virus causing COVID-19.
Takeda announced that it is initiating the development of a drug to treat people infected with the novel coronavirus. The experimental drug would be derived from the blood of coronavirus patients who have recovered from the respiratory disease.
In parallel, Takeda is also exploring whether currently marketed and pipeline products may be an effective treatment option for infected patients.
Roche has donated nearly $2 million-worth of one of its medicines to China to help the country manage the COVID-19 outbreak. The medicine has been on the European market since 2010 for treatment of several kinds of arthritis.
Roche is working with the US FDA to initiate a Phase III clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a medicine in hospitalised adult patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.
This is the first global study in this setting and is expected to begin enrolling in early April hoping to attract 330 patients globally, including the US.