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Pharma, Biotech Players Step Up Efforts Against Coronavirus

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Pharmaceutical and biotech industry players have joined the battle against the deadly coronavirus infection, COVID-19. Most of these companies are closely monitoring the situation and implementing plans to stay prepared for the protection of their employees and business as well as communities.

Business Operation Delays

Large-pharma companies namely Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) , and Lilly (LLY - Free Report) have decided to delay initiation of most of their new clinical studies and stop enrollment in ongoing studies. The merger of Mylan (MYL - Free Report) with Pfizer’s generic business, Upjohn, has also been postponed to the second half of this year. Bristol-Myers (BMY - Free Report) is also delaying start of new clinical studies and has decided to postpone the launch of its recently approved multiple sclerosis drug, Zeposia. Several other smaller drug/biotech companies plan to delay enrolment in ongoing clinical studies. However, completely enrolled studies will progress as planned.

Donations

Some of them have also donated funds to different organizations actively engaged in providing safety from and developing treatment for COVID-19. Amgen (AMGN - Free Report) and Horizon Therapeutics have committed $12.5 million and $1.5 million, respectively to fight COVID-19. While Merck (MRK - Free Report) will donate 500,000 face masks to New York City and 300,000 face masks to New Jersey, Novartis announced that it will provide up to 130 million doses of generic hydroxychloroquine to support the treatment of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, AbbVie has reportedly decided to drop its patent rights related to Kaletra anywhere in the world for all formulations. The drug is being used to treat COVID-19. Please note that Kaletra is not approved for treating COVID-19.

Coronavirus Impact

COVID-19 has so far affected almost 520,000 people across 190 countries, claiming more than 23,000 lives. The death toll in the United States has crossed the 1000-mark. Several countries are under lockdown to stop the spread of this deadly virus, which is also impacting their economies. The pandemic has derailed the ongoing multi-district opioid litigation in the United States. Jobless claims in the country have soared to an unprecedented 3.28 million. The U.S. government approved a $2 trillion stimulus package earlier this week to boost its economy including relief package for individuals. Several other governments have announced similar packages. The majority of companies across all industries are expected to provide a revised guidance for 2020 on their first-quarter earnings call to include the impact of COVID-19. Meanwhile, activist investor, Bill Ackman, has reportedly bet $2.5 billion for a recovery of the economy by investing the amount in equities.

New Entries

Meanwhile, several companies are trying to bring a safe vaccine/drug to stop the pandemic amid this crisis. New names have joined the bandwagon during the week to bring an effective treatment option for coronavirus. Among large players, Swiss-based Roche received FDA approval to initiate a phase III study to evaluate its rheumatoid arthritis drug, Actemra, as a potential treatment for hospitalized adult patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Roche currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Meanwhile, Dynavax Technologies has collaborated with China-based Clover Biopharmaceuticals as well as CEPI, a partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organizations, to develop a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Hoth Therapeutics and Voltron Therapeutics will form a joint venture to develop a Self-Assembling Vaccine for the potential prevention of COVID-19. CytoDyn Inc. initiated dosing of COVID-19 patients with its multiple therapeutic candidate, leronlimab. Aldeyra Therapeutics announced its plan to screen its library of novel reactive aldehyde species inhibitors for potential anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity in the treatment of COVID-19 infection. CEL-SCI Corporation has collaborated with University of Georgia to develop LEAPS COVID-19 immunotherapy.

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