Seven pharma companies form alliance to prepare for future pandemics 

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Seven pharmaceutical companies have established the INTREPID Alliance with the goal of accelerating progress in discovery and development of new antiviral treatments for future pandemics. 

The seven companies are AbbVie, Amgen, Gilead, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Roche and Takeda.

The INTREPID alliance creation is in support of the 100 Days Mission, which seeks to have 25 antiviral therapies for viral diseases with pandemic potential ready for phase II/III clinical trials by 2026. As a first step, the INTREPID alliance will publish an initial list of promising antiviral compounds later this year based on publicly available information and derived from a global landscape assessment and scientific evaluation.  

The INTREPID alliance members collectively bring expertise in drug discovery, antiviral R&D and medicine manufacturing. INTREPID will monitor and evaluate the wide range of innovative antiviral compounds and projects being researched around the world by academia, government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector for infections with pandemic potential, including coronaviruses, or viral families of concern such as filoviruses. The listed compounds will include those that the experts assess to be able to proceed quickly into late-stage clinical development on the onset of a new pandemic. 

The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of focusing on innovation across a full range of medical countermeasures, including diagnostic tests, vaccines and treatments. Building on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 response, INTREPID will contribute to delivering on the 100 Days Mission, established by the G7. 

The 100 Days Mission seeks to develop and deploy high-quality diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines in just 100 days following the declaration of a pandemic and to work with regulators, research centers and other stakeholders to build a pathway for their development. In COVID-19, the pipeline for oral antivirals took longer to develop than novel vaccines.  

The INTREPID alliance’s initial list of antiviral compounds

The initial list of antiviral compounds with potential utility against pandemic viruses is set to be published by the INTREPID alliance later this year, following a broad antiviral landscape assessment and scientific evaluation. 

The landscape assessment is expected to identify some R&D gaps that would require new research projects and collaborations to be established and funded. The INTREPID alliance will offer advice and consultation to help accelerate the selected antiviral compounds that have the strongest potential to positively alter the course of future pandemics. 

Treatments are considered an integral part of any effective pandemic response, with antivirals playing an important role in saving lives. The INTREPID alliance will also engage with policymakers and public health bodies to ensure that antivirals are integrated appropriately into global and local efforts to be better prepared against future pandemics.  

INTREPID experts plan to classify antiviral compound candidates into three groups: Clinical Agents, compounds with approval for human clinical trials; Pre-Clinical Agents, selected compound candidates prior to initiation of human clinical trials; and Exploratory Agents, compounds in earlier stages of optimization and profiling.

Antiviral Summit

The work of INTREPID was launched at a one-day Antiviral Summit in March this year, which brought together around 100 thought leaders in virology and global health. A report from the proceedings was published today, setting out recommendations from Summit attendees including government agencies, industry and multilateral organizations to strengthen the global antiviral ecosystem for pandemic preparedness. These span regulatory coordination, access considerations, manufacturing, as well as policy coordination.  

James Anderson, executive director of global health at the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (IFPMA) and chair of the INTREPID Alliance Board, said: “One of the key lessons from our response to COVID-19 was the power of partnership and innovation. This is exactly what the INTREPID Alliance plans to build on – bringing together the experts and the platform needed to help ensure we are better prepared for future pandemics. 

“Bridging the gap between pathogens with the greatest pandemic potential and the antiviral solutions we need will require innovation, commitment and collaboration across sectors and the INTREPID Alliance aims to deliver against this goal.” 

Carl W. Dieffenbach, director of the division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, added: “An integrated plan for pandemic preparedness addresses key research gaps in top viral families and accelerates the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for prototype and priority pathogens. It is critical that there is close coordination between governments, key global stakeholders, and industry to put in place the best possible preparation for any future pandemic.” 

John Young, head, pandemic preparedness, Roche Pharma Research and Early Development and board member, INTREPID Alliance, said: “As experienced drug discoverers and developers, the members of the INTREPID Alliance have a key role to play in the pandemic preparedness ecosystem, bringing together major stakeholders and ensuring that safe and effective antivirals are ready for deployment when the next pandemic strikes.” 

Sujata Vaidyanathan, development unit head for in-market brands and global health at Novartis Pharmaceuticals and board member, INTREPID Alliance, said: “Collaboration is key for science to move fast. This was one of the most important lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. By placing collaboration at the heart of the INTREPID Alliance, I believe we will be well-equipped to respond more rapidly to future pandemics.”  

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