Big Pharma’s Ukraine Response: Humanitarian Aid & Differing Russia Approaches

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been roundly condemned by the pharmaceutical industry and almost all Big Pharmas have pledged humanitarian support to Ukraine. However, not all companies have followed the lead of businesses in other industries in severing ties with Russia, citing the importance of continuing to supply essential medicines to the country. Read on for a roundup of how the Global Top 10 companies have responded.

 

Pfizer

Pfizer has segmented its response into ‘people’, ‘patients’, and ‘humanitarian efforts’. The US giant has pledged to support its 100 staff and contractors in Ukraine as well as staff in Russia and ensure that patients in Ukraine can continue to access critical medicines. While Pfizer will continue to maintain supply of medicines to Russia, it has vowed to donate all proceeds to providing direct humanitarian support to the people of Ukraine. To date, the firm has donated over USD two million in humanitarian grant funding.

Prior to the invasion, Pfizer was conducting 27 clinical trials in Ukraine , but has now paused recruitment of new patients.

 

Roche

Roche “vehemently condemns the violent invasion” of Ukraine and has pledged to donate 150,000 packages of Rocephin, a critical antibiotic used to treat the symptoms of many kinds of bacterial infections and listed on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. The Swiss firm has 33 clinical trials underway in Ukraine which account for 1.5 percent of the active trial population across its global studies and is trying to identify sites in nearby countries with the potential to take on its clinical study patients.

However, Roche is not shuttering its Russian operations – citing the critical role that its Russian staff play in access to medicine – but is pausing new site activation and patient enrolment in the country.

 

AbbVie

Like Pfizer, AbbVie is taking what it calls “a three-pronged philanthropic approach focused on humanitarian, employee and donation support.” The company is donating USD one million to International Medical Corps and Project Hope for medical care and supplies for Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees as well as donating essential medicines to the Ukrainian government and its disaster relief partners.

AbbVie also stated its commitment to providing relief and additional financial support to Ukrainian employees and their immediate families and has doubled the AbbVie Foundation’s employee donation match for select disaster relief partners with active humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine and surrounding countries. The firm has suspended operations for all of its aesthetics products in Russia.

 

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)

J&J has donated USD five million to support the work of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and International Federation Red Cross and Red Crescent to provide humanitarian support for refugees; pledged to provide medical supplies; and launched an unlimited matching program for global employees through the Global Giving Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.

The firm has also committed to working with established partners in global health through access to its supply chain network. For its clinical trials, J&J has paused screening and enrolment of new patients in Ukraine, Russia, and Russian ally Belarus.

J&J is not, however, pulling out of Russia, saying in a statement that “We remain committed to providing essential health products to those in need in Ukraine, Russia, and the region, in compliance with current sanctions and while adapting to the rapidly changing situation on the ground.”

 

Novartis

Novartis, on the other hand, has decided to top up its humanitarian efforts with wider curtails on its Russian operations. It told Endpoints News that it has “decided to suspend any investments in Russia and stop all commercial marketing activities, as well as all scientific events, organized by us or by external parties.”

The Swiss pharma made an initial USD three million donation to three humanitarian organizations that help people in Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees in neighbouring countries and has recently announced the donation of its inventory of essential medicines within the country for use in Ukrainian medical facilities, as well as working to supply medicines into Ukraine from beyond its borders.

 

Bayer

Bayer of Germany has established a EUR three million Disaster Relief Fund for Ukraine, providing both monetary assistance and donations of health products, and its employees have stumped up EUR one million through a Red Cross relief campaign, which the company pledges to match.

The company has pledged to stop “all non-essential business in Russia and Belarus” (Suspending all advertising and other promotional activities, halting capital investment projects indefinitely, and not pursuing any new business opportunities) but stopped short of a complete halt to operations. A statement noted that “Our position is that this senseless war has already taken many lives. As a Life Science company, we have an ethical obligation – in every country we operate in. Withholding essential health and agriculture products from the civilian populations – like cancer or cardiovascular treatments, health products for pregnant women and children as well as seeds to grow food – would only multiply the war’s ongoing toll on human life.”

 

Merck & Co. (MSD)

MSD has promised to supply 135,000 doses of its COVID-19 treatment molnupiravir to patients still in Ukraine and 100,000 to those refugees outside of its borders, as well as donating USD one million to NGOs and creating a US employee donation program. The company estimates the value of its total cash and product donations to top USD 39 million.

MSD is the most active company in Ukrainian clinical trials – Reuters states that it has nearly 60 ongoing trials in the country – and has paused enrolling new patients in Ukraine and Russia. It has been trying to get products to people enrolled in trials as well as to commercial customers.

The company has pledged to make no further investments into Russia but will continue to supply essential medicines and vaccines to the country.

 

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS)

BMS is contributing to relief efforts in Ukraine through USD 300,000 in donations by the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation to Save the Children and International Rescue Committee.

As of publication, BMS is yet to make an official statement on its Russian operations, but a spokesperson told Endpoints that “We have suspended new patient recruitments and clinical trial site activations in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. We have also suspended new clinical trial activations.”

 

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

The British firm condemned “the intensification of fighting and the harm and suffering it’s causing to people in Ukraine and beyond” and is “providing targeted humanitarian support through long-term NGO partners who have teams on the ground in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.”

This includes donations of GBP 3.25 million to the Red Cross and Save the Children andGBP 250,000 to NGO Crown Agends to fund 2,500 medical trauma kits.

GSK will continue to supply essential medicines to Russia but plans to halt its clinical trial operations, reports Reuters.

 

Sanofi

French behemoth Sanofi has donated upwards of EUR 5 million to the Red Cross for Ukraine and neighbouring countries as well as the U.N.’s refugee agency, according to Fierce Pharma. The company is also hastening donations of essential medicines and vaccines to patients in Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees in nearby countries.

Endpoints reports that Sanofi has pledged to immediately stop all advertising and media activities in Russia, as well as any new spending not related to the supply of “our essential medicines and vaccines.”


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