Eight Indian generic drug companies join international coalition, pledge to make COVID-19 drugs

A coalition of 18 pharma companies located in India, China, Bangladesh and South Africa that manufacture generic drugs have pledged to work together to accelerate access to millions of doses of new interventions for COVID-19 for low- and middle-income countries.

A coalition of 18 pharma companies located in India, China, Bangladesh and South Africa that manufacture generic drugs have pledged to work together to accelerate access to millions of doses of new interventions for COVID-19 for low- and middle-income countries.

The companies have come together under the umbrella of the non-profit Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). Indian companies that have pledged to manufacture COVID-19 drugs include Sun Pharma, Lupin, Aurobindo, Zydus Cadila, Hetero, Natco and Strides Pharma.

“This unprecedented cooperation from companies that are typically competitors represents a breakthrough in our efforts to level the playing field for access to drugs that will be crucial to controlling and defeating this pandemic,” Charles Gore, Executive Director of MPP said in a release. All the 18 companies have the capacity to deliver substantial amounts of conventional drugs and biologics, including monoclonal antibodies.

“We affirm our joint engagement and offer our capacity to develop and supply COVID-19 treatments – re-purposed, new, small molecules and biologics – to those in need,” the pledge by the companies that have the capacity to produce large volumes of high-quality COVID-19 treatments reads. MPP believes that the pledge will encourage companies now developing new drugs or testing existing drugs for COVID-19 to negotiate agreements allowing rapid access to those in need.

“Today, we call on other leading manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of medicines from all around the world to join us in this united effort and sign this pledge so that we can work shoulder to shoulder to end this pandemic,” the pledge notes.

This can be either through licensing of their intellectual property, or where licences are not needed, facilitating ways to scale up manufacturing capacity to meet the high demands, the release states.

“Each of us stands ready to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 through our technical expertise and longstanding experience in manufacturing and distribution of quality-assured medicines,” the companies say in the pledge. “We are convinced that through a transparent approach, in working together, we can offer more than the sum of our individual capacities. In our mission to fight COVID-19 and prevent millions of unnecessary deaths everywhere, we commit to SUCCESS (Sustainable Universal access through Collaboration, Coordination, Emergency measures, Scale and Speed).”

Published in The Hindu on November 12, 2020