In the face of a global crisis, Novartis quickly mobilized research and development capabilities, manufacturing capacities, clinical trial expertise and philanthropic aid to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vaccine production and collaborating with partners
We are helping to support the global supply of vaccines and therapeutics. By leveraging our production facilities we support vaccine demand around the world. Novartis is partnering with multistakeholder consortia, including the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, coordinated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and Master-card, as well as a partnership supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative. We are participating with the University of California, Berkeley, and other pharmaceutical companies to develop an antiviral molecule to potentially treat all coronaviruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19.
We played our part in the scientific efforts to find treatments for COVID-19. We quickly designed and launched three Phase III, placebo-controlled trials to determine if our products could help patients with certain COVID-19-related symptoms. We provided these and other medicines to investigator- initiated trials and managed access programs upon request.
DARPin (Designed Ankyrin Repeat Proteins) Therapies
Novartis has collaborated with Molecular Partners on the development of ensovibep, an investigational DARPin therapeutic candidate designed specifically to inhibit SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
DARPin therapeutics are a new class of custom-built therapies, developed by Molecular Partners, that link small protein elements into molecules to generate therapeutic effects. Ensovibep consists of five protein elements, three binding to three different places of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and two intended to extend the half-life.
Following positive topline results from Phase 2 of the EMPATHY clinical trial, Novartis exercised the option to in-license ensovibep from Molecular Partners and is now responsible for further development, manufacturing, distribution and commercialization activities. Novartis has also submitted an application for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is currently designing a Phase 3 study to provide the Agency with additional data to support their review.
Access and pricing commitments
Novartis is making 15 drugs that treat key symptoms of COVID-19 available to low-income and lowermiddle- income countries at zero profit until a vaccine or curative treatment is available. Our Sandoz Division is maintaining prices on a basket of essential medicines that may help in the treatment of COVID-19.
Novartis committed to donating up to USD 40 million to support communities around the world impacted by the pandemic. This includes the Novartis COVID-19 Response Fund and a US COVID- 19 Community Response Fund, established by Novartis and the Novartis US Foundation, that will provide cash and in-kind donations for immediate response and recovery eorts related to the pandemic in the US.
Supporting our associates
We took steps to support our associates and their families as they adapted to new conditions and commitments such as working remotely, educating children at home, and caring for loved ones. We provided additional paid leave and enhanced childcare support for associates in critical roles who needed to be on site. We announced a new global policy to give office-based associates more flexibility to choose how, where and when they work.