Coranavirus; The potential effect on the pharma supply chain


With the Coranavirus recently declared a ‘global threat’ by WHO and now officially surpassing the SARs virus for deaths and number of people affected. This pandemic now represents a real threat to the pharmaceutical supply chain as well as the health of the population at large.
China is an integral part of the supply chain, with it being the world’s largest supplier of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) being responsible for around 40% of global production to supply the ingredients for the makers of generic and innovator drugs alike. In the UK, 80—90% of the generic medicines used in the NHS are imported and China is among the top five providers outside the EU. This dependency has arisen from the cost-saving incentives that Chinese pharmaceutical markets offer.
Although most Chinese drug manufacturers are based along the east coast a long way away from the Wuhan province. The virus has since been detected in every province. With imposed measures such as a diminished workforce, growing number of travel bans and other countermeasures such as potential international embargos, presenting uncertain sustainable production levels. The full scale of the impact is unlikely to be known until many months to come.
The pharma industry has already begun to respond to the pandemic, such as companies like Inovio Pharmaceuticals and Moderna developing vaccination programmes with the help of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)
GSK has made its adjuvant technology available to help the University of Queensland, to expand its rapid vaccine production system. The adjuvant should reduce the amount of antigen necessary for each vaccine, allowing more people to be treated faster with available antigen supplies. GSK is not the only major pharma company to make strides into Coranavirus vaccination, with Gilead making efforts to re-purpose its drug remdesivir, originally developed to treat Ebola with recent reports allegedly claiming it has received light from the Chine Food and Drug Administration for a clinical trial to take place in Wuhan.


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