By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Pharmaceutical Association of the Philippines (PHAP), which represents the research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare sector in the country, vowed to immediately bring new vaccines and technologies to cure and detect coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) once these are available.
“Once available, our goal is to immediately bring these life-saving innovations into the country in partnership with the government,” said PHAP President Dr. Beaver Tamesis.
Tamesis stressed, “Now more than ever, there is need for strong public-private collaboration to contain health threats.”
He added that the role of the pharmaceutical industry is crucial in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Pharmaceutical companies enable the research and development of innovations and technologies for the detection of the COVID-19, and in the ongoing search for its potential prevention and treatment.
Meantime, PHAP Executive Director Teodoro Padilla said
PHAP fully supports efforts that will enable the pharmaceutical sector to continue the work it has started in the research and development of potential vaccines and treatments for the COVID-19.
“We are also ready to support the government to contain this current health threat,” said Padilla.
He echoed the call of Tamesis for stronger collaboration with the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
According to Padilla, PHAP member companies are also looking very closely at their supply chains to ensure that essential medicines and vaccines are available for Filipino patients.
“Our members have a continuity plan to ensure that the supply of needed diagnostics and medicines is uninterrupted during emergencies,” he said.
Members of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) are developing new medicines and vaccines to help respond to the COVID-19 epidemic. R&D biopharmaceutical companies with potentially relevant knowhow have teams ofscientists checking their libraries for potential assets that could fight coronaviruses. PHAP is a member of the IFPMA, which represents the research-based pharmaceutical companies and associations across the globe.
PHAP shares concerns that the COVID-19, for which an antiviral therapy is yet to be developed, is a serious public health threat.
The speedy sharing of the pathogen sequence, followed by the declaration of the novel coronavirus as an international emergency, and the convening of a research and development forum, should further galvanize global collaboration with the private and public sectors for the timely development of vaccines and treatments, the IFPMA said.
As a science-driven sector, global pharmaceutical companies have reviewed their drug and vaccine portfolios to see if there is any research that could be helpful in tackling COVID-19. This includes efforts to identify suitable assets in their libraries that could be utilized in the fight against coronaviruses.
Relevant assets include diagnostics and biomarkers, approved therapies, or compounds in development that could be repurposed for use in treating patients with the coronavirus.Artificial Intelligence is also finding its place in the process, and is being used to mine through medical information to find drugs that might be helpful for tackling the novel coronavirus.
Padilla noted that several biopharmaceutical companies are working with the Chinese government and research institutes in the United States and Australia to fast-track the development of vaccines against COVID-19. Biopharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson announced that it has begun to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. GlaxoSmithKline, on the other hand, said that it is making its adjuvant technology available to support rapid development of candidate vaccines.
In addition to R&D efforts, many research-based biopharmaceutical companies with a presence in China are donating funds, medicines, diagnostics and medical protective products.
The IFPMA said that Johnson & Johnson has provided boxes containing laboratory-based investigations to the Chinese Centre for Disease Prevention, which includes drug screening for anti-viral properties against the novel coronavirus. Pfizer, meanwhile, has made cash contributions to its global NGO partners that have shipped supplies to hospitals in China. Roche also donated diagnostic tests, medical supplies and financial support.