Drugmakers Prepare to Make Coronavirus Treatments - (Morningstar via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and other companies are reconfiguring manufacturing plants and hiring hundreds of new staff to be ready to make coronavirus drugs and vaccines should they prove effective in trials, as reported in Morningstar.

  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals plans to shift production of eye-disease treatment Eylea and other drugs to facilities in Ireland to devote its plant in Rensselaer, NY, to making a COVID-19 drug. "By the end of the summer, I'd like our plant to be completely operational to produce large quantities" of a coronavirus drug, said CEO Executive Leonard Schleifer, "and not far behind that, to have other companies using our technology to make sure we can supply as many people as possible."

  • Johnson & Johnson aims to make more than one billion doses of its experimental vaccine, according to chief scientific officer Paul Stoffels. It will start making the doses soon at a plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, which has been making experimental vaccines for other diseases.

  • Meanwhile, Pfizer has been buying raw materials to make its vaccines and plans to tap manufacturing plants that make sterile injectable products or vaccines such as its pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13, said Mike McDermott, the company's global-supply president. He said Pfizer will also hire more workers, and may shift production of existing products to its own facilities or have contract manufacturers temporarily make them.

  • Meanwhile, Gilead Sciences began ramping up manufacturing of its experimental antiviral drug remdesivir in January, aiming to produce 140,000 treatment courses for COVID-19 patients by the end of May, and more than one million by the end of December, though the company is still waiting for the results of testing.

  • However, David Loew, who leads Sanofi's vaccine business, remarked "we cannot produce all of this and not know if there's going to be a market or not, or if it is going to work or not." He said Sanofi is talking with governments and nonprofits about getting financial help to pay for making hundreds of millions of doses of its coronavirus vaccine candidate.

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