Keeping tabs on Covid-19: Treatment project awarded funding as second-wave Covid-19 scenario planning begins

With worries of coronavirus returning for a second wave, Pharma IQ examines how the pharma industry is responding to public uncertainty and explores the measures put in place to prevent further viral spread

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Epidemics of infectious diseases are unpredictable and often come in waves. History has proved that a virus can return with force, such as with the three-wave pandemic of the Spanish flu in 1918.

As communities around the globe begin to come out of lockdown, the pharma industry must ensure that measures are in place to prevent a second wave of coronavirus. With a cure still not identified to treat first-wave responses, Pharma IQ’s regular industry round-up returns to explore how the pharma industry is preparing to mitigate the possibility of a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

UK project awarded funding to search for ‘second wave’ Covid-19 treatments

A research initiative led by the University of Liverpool and involving researchers from the Liverpool Tropical School of Medicine, Southampton Clinical Trials Unit and NIHR Liverpool and Broadgreen Clinical Research Facility, has been awarded £2.2m ($2.7m) in funding to rapidly identify new drugs to help treat and prevent Covid-19.

The research project is called AGILE and examines second wave compounds to bolster the Covid-19 response. Should the first wave of repurposed medicines, such as remdesivir, lopinavir and hydroxychloroquine, fail to treat coronavirus, AGILE aims to help the pharma industry prepareg to find effective medicines and treatments by rapidly providing clinical proof-of-concepts for drug candidates emerging from global preclinical screening efforts.

Dynamic early-stage (phase I/IIa) clinical trials will be required to advance, ahead of time, plausible candidates for inclusion in randomized phase III clinical trials and will eliminate candidates with little or no prospect of clinical success before huge resources are committed.

Saye Khoo, Professor of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Liverpool, said: “AGILE uses the most modern and innovative statistical methods which allows for multiple drugs to be tested in parallel, and to remove or add treatments faster than ever before, based on results of safety and efficacy.

“This has the advantage of testing more treatments quickly, to find out which new drugs are suitable for large-scale testing in Covid-19 patients. This is similar to fast-track programs for treatment of cancer patients that are approved by the UK regulator.”

Industry bodies come together for second-wave Covid-19 scenario planning

To facilitate second-wave planning, Medicines for Europe, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and Kearney have developed a three-step scenario plan to address how demand for critical intensive care medicines may develop in the case of a second wave of the pandemic.

The plan identifies there is an urgent need for the pharma industry to conduct a more detailed planning regime across Europe to ensure hospitals and clinics are not left with a medicine shortage. EFPIA also claims in the event of a second wave, there are likely to be supply risks across Europe, most poignantly in neuromuscular blockers.

The industry bodies hope the results of the plan will galvanize countries to take action now and plan for the risk of a second wave. The plan highlights that EU and national governments around the world should use the summer months to restock on critical ICU medicines and develop a sustainable strategy for future crisis preparedness.

A statement by EFPIA details: “The industry is committed to doing everything within its power to provide the required supply for a second wave, and encourages direct collaboration with governments, to provide rapidly a clear joint plan for resupply. This includes the necessity for transparent exchange of information regarding data on patients’ needs between industry and governments in the spirit of joint crisis preparation, for example in a working group of government and key industry representatives.”

To overcome the growing complexities in pharma life cycles and accelerate your business development strategies to prepare your pharma business against the effects of a possible second-wave pandemic, download Pharma Logistics IQ’s latest report, Responding to Covid-19 in pharmaceutical supply chains. Learn how to manage supply chain risk and disruption when the long-term effects on operations are unknown and understand how to prepare for a digital future in supply chain management.