Biotechnology

Seven pharmaceutical companies form an alliance to prepare for a pandemic

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Seven pharmaceutical companies have formed the INTREPID Alliance with the aim of accelerating progress in the discovery and development of new antiviral treatments for future pandemics.

The seven companies are AbbVie, Amgen, Gilead, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Roche and Takeda.

The formation of this alliance is in support of the 100 Day Mission, which seeks to have 25 antiviral therapies for viral diseases with pandemic potential ready for phase II/III clinical trials by 2026. As a first step, INTREPID will publish an initial list of promising antiviral compounds later this year based on publicly available information derived from global landscape assessments and scientific evaluations.

That INTREPID Alliance members collectively bring expertise in drug discovery, antiviral R&D, and drug manufacturing. INTREPID will monitor and evaluate a variety of innovative antiviral compounds and projects that are being researched around the world by academia, governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector for infections with pandemic potential, including coronaviruses, or families of viruses of concern such as filoviruses. The listed compounds will include those that experts judge could quickly move to late-stage clinical development at the start of a new pandemic.

The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic shows the importance of focusing on innovation across a wide range of medical precautions, including diagnostic tests, vaccines and treatments. Based on lessons learned from the COVID-19 response, INTREPID will contribute to realizing the 100 Day Mission, founded by the G7.

The 100 Days Mission seeks to develop and deploy high-quality diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines within just 100 days of the pandemic declaration and to work with regulators, research centers and other stakeholders to establish a pipeline for their development. In COVID-19, development of oral antivirals has taken longer than new vaccines.

Antiviral compounds

A preliminary list of antiviral compounds with potential use against pandemic viruses will be published by INTREPID later this year, following an extensive antiviral landscape assessment and scientific evaluation.

The landscape assessment is expected to identify some R&D gaps that will require new research and collaboration projects to be established and funded. INTREPID will offer advice and consultation to help accelerate the selected antiviral compounds that have the strongest potential to positively change the course of future pandemics.

Treatment is considered an integral part of an effective pandemic response, with antivirals playing a critical role in saving lives. INTREPID will also engage with policy makers and public health agencies to ensure that antivirals are properly integrated into global and local efforts to be better prepared for future pandemics.

INTREPID experts plan to classify candidate antiviral compounds into three groups: Clinical Agentcompounds with approval for clinical trials in humans; Pre-Clinical Agents, candidate compounds selected before the start of human clinical trials; And Exploration Agentcompounds in the early stages of optimization and profiling.

Antivirus Summit

INTREPID’s work was launched at the one-day Antiviral Summit in March this year, which brought together some 100 thought leaders in the fields of virology and global health. Report of the proceedings published today, set out recommendations from summit participants including government agencies, industry and multilateral organizations to strengthen the global antivirus ecosystem for pandemic preparedness. This includes regulatory coordination, access considerations, manufacturing, and policy coordination.

James Anderson, executive director of global health at the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (IFPMA) and chairman of the INTREPID Alliance Council, said: “One of the key lessons from our response to COVID-19 is the power of partnership and innovation. This is what the INTREPID Alliance plans to build – bringing together the experts and platforms needed to help ensure we are better prepared for future pandemics.

“Bridging the gap between the pathogens with the greatest pandemic potential and the antiviral solutions we need will require innovation, commitment and collaboration across sectors and the INTREPID Alliance aims to achieve this goal.”

Carl W. Dieffenbach, director of the AIDS division at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the US National Institutes of Health, added: “An integrated plan for pandemic preparedness addresses key research gaps in top virus families and accelerates the development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for prototypes and priority pathogens. It is imperative that there is close coordination between governments, key global stakeholders and industry to make the best possible preparations for any future pandemics.”

John Young, head, pandemic preparedness, Roche Pharma Research and Early Development and member of the board, INTREPID Alliance, said: “As experienced drug inventors and developers, INTREPID Alliance members have a key role to play in the pandemic preparedness ecosystem, bringing together key stakeholders and ensuring that safe and effective antivirals are ready for use when the next pandemic hits.”

Sujata Vaidyanathan, head of the development unit for in-market branding and global health at Novartis Pharmaceuticals and member of the board, INTREPID Alliance, said: “Collaboration is key for science to move fast. This is one of the most important lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. By placing collaboration at the heart of the INTREPID Alliance, I believe we will be well equipped to respond more quickly to future pandemics.”

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