Keeping tabs on Covid-19: Sanofi to launch virtual R&D day, shipping containers developed for Covid-19 vaccines and UK dexamethasone clinical trial shows positive results

Aiming to improve coordination between scientists and global health professionals, this week’s Covid-19 update from the Pharma IQ team looks at how R&D supply chains are adapting to meet market demands

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This week, news of Sanofi hosting a virtual R&D day event was announced, which aims to share the progress the company has made in building a sustainable R&D engine. Similarly, we saw Faron Pharmaceuticals launch a virtual R&D Day webcast to support R&D operations during the pandemic.

With R&D very much at the top of the pharma agenda during the pandemic, Pharma IQ explores the headway being made in the extended R&D supply chain, from the most recent research on clinical trials to activities in shipping and manufacturing operations.

Steroid dexamethasone shows signs of treating patients who are critically ill with Covid-19

The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed initial clinical trials results that showed dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with Covid-19. The result has only be seen in patients seriously ill with Covid-19 and has not been observed in patients with a milder version of the disease.

For patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one-third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth, according to preliminary findings shared with WHO.

The researchers of the dexamethasone clinical trial shared these initial insights with WHO and claimed full-data analysis on the trials progress would be available to review in the coming days. WHO plans to coordinate a met-analysis to increase industry understanding of this intervention and share guidance to reflect how and when the drug should commercially be used in to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said: “This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with Covid-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support. This is great news and I congratulate the government of the UK, the University of Oxford, and the many hospitals and patients in the UK who have contributed to this life-saving scientific breakthrough.”

Pharma packaging companies commit to supply for Covid-19 fight

Gerresheimer, Stevanato Group and Schott have come together to ensure amply supply of pharmaceutical containers for any Covid-19 vaccine and treatment developed, assuring no patient goes without, regardless of what region of the world they live in.

The three companies manufacture type-1 borosilicate glass vials, a widely available material used to store and deliver vaccines around the world.

Dr. Frank Heinricht, Chairman of Schott’s Management Board, said: “We will do our utmost to provide the required containers in the best quality. The fact that 50 billion borosilicate glass containers are already deployed each year for a wide variety of vaccines and treatments, and that we have made significant investments to expand capacity makes us optimistic this can be achieved.”

Stevanato Group CEO Franco Stevanato remarked: “Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we implemented all safety measures to protect our employees and deployed all available assets to secure our supplies to pharma companies.”

Dietmar Siemssen, CEO of Gerresheimer, concluded the statement, noting that the group were prepared to support the global market demand for potential Covid-19 vaccines with their vials and syringes being produced in our large production facilities in the US, Mexico, Europe and Asia.

Sanofi to launch interactive virtual R&D event to showcase innovative medicines to fuel future R&D growth

Sanofi announced that it would host a series of interactive webcasts highlighting key priority pipeline programs that would conclude with the company’s virtual R&D day event on June 23.

The five-part webcast series, which began in April with the presentation of Phase 2 results and Sanofi’s development strategy for its brain-penetrant BTKi’168 for multiple sclerosis.

Upcoming sessions will discuss Sanofi’s oncology strategy, line extension plans for Dupixent and nirsevimab, potentially the first time a monoclonal antibody offers a population-based solution to prevent respiratory syncytial virus for all infants.

John Reed, Global Head of Research and Development at Sanofi, said: Over the coming weeks, we look forward to sharing the tremendous progress we’ve made in advancing our priority molecules and building a sustainable R&D engine.

“With a great team, deep therapeutic area expertise and an expanding toolbox of therapeutic platforms, Sanofi is poised to discover the next generation of life-changing medicines.”

For more on drug discovery and development to combat Covid-19, join your peers in this interactive webinar to explore how Dassault Systèmes and Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson are using molecular modeling for drug repurposing, detection of SARS-CoV-2 and vaccine design. Secure your place for free now.