What biotech execs are saying about COVID-19

June 12, 2020
What a week! BIO Digital was full of wisdom about how we can tackle the challenges ahead for our industry and world—from Dr. Fauci and our all-star COVID-19 panelists providing an update on vaccines and therapeutics, to Dr. Tony Coles’ powerful words about the need to…
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What a week! BIO Digital was full of wisdom about how we can tackle the challenges ahead for our industry and world—from Dr. Fauci and our all-star COVID-19 panelists providing an update on vaccines and therapeutics, to Dr. Tony Coles’ powerful words about the need to CRISPR the systemic racism out of our social genome.

We have a lot of work to do—but we know the biotech industry can handle it.

To close out the week, we take a look at what biotech CEOs are saying about COVID-19 plus new legislation that would give ethanol producers more certainty about the future, in around 750 words, just under 4 minutes.

What biotech execs are saying about COVID-19

If there’s a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that it might change the biotech industry and how we’re viewed by the world for the better—by emphasizing collaboration and accelerating technology that will help us deliver the cures of the future.

“Collaboration is allowing us to move at speeds previously unimaginable.” In a matter of weeks, global biopharmas worked together to bring vaccines and therapeutics to clinical trials, working with government to speed up timelines, explains Bristol Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio in Fortune.

It’s also “pushing the boundaries of improving health with technology,” he adds. The ability to rapidly sequence the coronavirus genome allowed us to move quickly on vaccines—such as the one from Moderna, which will head to Phase III clinical trial in July.

It’s likewise accelerated the use of technology in clinical trials and health care delivery, as Dr. Mathai Mammen, Global Head of R&D for Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, explained this week, as necessity and technology allowed for remote evidence collection, home delivery of medication, and iPad-based monitoring of patients, to name a few.

And hopefully, the pandemic will show the world the importance of science—and how “biotech is the first line of defense with the brightest and most dedicated people leading the charge,” as Dr. Cedric François, CEO of Apellis, writes

Want more thoughts from biotech’s brightest minds? Biotechnology in the Time of COVID-19: Commentaries from the Front Line is a new book of 47 essays by biotech thought leaders (including Dr. Michelle!), edited by Dr. Jeremy Levin, BIO Chair and CEO of Ovid Therapeutics. The book is available for free on Amazon Kindle through today!

 

More Health Care News: 

Biopharma Dive: Regeneron brings first COVID-19 antibody 'cocktail' into human tests
“The Tarrytown, New York-based biotech will test its treatment, a cocktail of two engineered antibodies, in two placebo-controlled studies of hospitalized and non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients.” 

NBC Nightly News: Coronavirus researchers report progress in race for vaccine
BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath talks about the outlook for COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. 

STAT News: One of biotech’s biggest conferences grapples with how to talk about race and identity
“Thursday’s hourlong panel covered a broad range of topics, including what it meant to [Dr. Tony] Coles and [Dr. Ted] Love to be a Black CEO and how they responded to George Floyd’s death as a person and as an executive. It also explored the current and historical policies that contributed to the health disparities that have led to dramatically poorer outcomes for Black people and other people of color infected by the novel coronavirus.”

 
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New legislation would support ethanol producers in the COVID-19 fight

Yesterday, U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) introduced legislation to support American ethanol producers as they make much-needed sanitizers during this crisis—and we’re here for it.

The bill would “extend for two years The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ‘Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency,’” according to Sen. Thune’s statement.

Extending this guidance will give ethanol producers greater certainty about the future—as they’ve invested a lot to shift their manufacturing operations quickly to meet demand for hand sanitizer all while the demand for transportation fuel has gone way down.

What they’re saying: “The COVID-19 health pandemic has hit a wide spectrum of industries in our economy–including biofuels, as the demand for fuel has gone down,” said Sen. Thune. “While I recognize the amount of ethanol required for hand sanitizer will be a drop in the bucket for our ethanol producers, every bit helps, and American ethanol producers stand ready to help America get through these tough times.” 

Stephanie’s Sage Words: “Biotechnology has enabled the sustainable fuels industry to step up in the fight to protect the public against COVID-19 by repurposing their facilities to produce hand sanitizer. BIO thanks Senator Thune for introducing legislation to provide regulatory certainty to producers who have made the investment to help combat this disease.” – Stephanie Batchelor, VP of BIO’s Industrial and Environment Section 

Learn more how biotech companies focused on agriculture and the environment have stepped up during the crisis.

 

More Agriculture & Environment News: 

Reuters: Europe to accelerate trials of gene-engineered COVID-19 vaccines
“The reform is expected to reduce member states’ power to impose extra requirements on drug companies when they conduct clinical trials on medicines and vaccines containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to the sources.”

 
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President Trump’s Friday: He’s at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey for the weekend, with no public events scheduled today.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Back on Monday.

 
 
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