Pharma Relief Roundup: News from Merck & Co., Allergan, Bayer, Merck KGaA

By Miranda Greenberg -

May 14, 2020

The latest contributions from Merck & Co., Allergan, Bayer, and Merck KGaA in funding and donations supporting relief efforts against COVID-19.

Merck & Co. Commits Additional $10 M to COVID-19 Relief Efforts
Merck & Co. and the Merck Foundation will make an additional commitment of $10 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts to help address health disparities and inequality among patients and communities in support of #GivingTuesdayNow, a new global day of giving and unity as an emergency response to COVID-19.

With this commitment, Merck & Co. has contributed or committed more than $30 million (as reported on May 5, 2020) in support of global, national, and local COVID-19 relief efforts. To address health disparities, Merck & Co. says it will work with select external partners to support US and global efforts that support underserved and vulnerable communities and patients with underlying health conditions and strengthen health systems and capacity of frontline healthcare workers to provide care for vulnerable patients.

Source: Merck & Co.


BMS To Launch Virtual Platform for COVID-19 Advocates
Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) and GRYT Health, a digital health company, have partnered to develop the COVID Advocacy Exchange, a virtual platform to unite patient advocacy organizations, patients, policy-makers, healthcare practitioners, and industry in the exchange of information.

BMS says that the COVID Advocacy Exchange will invite close to 100 global and local advocacy organizations, spanning disease states, to convene virtually to support patients with serious diseases who are simultaneously navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual platform will provide access to data and information as well as the opportunity to participate in weekly live, interactive sessions to foster discussion and collaboration.

Under the platform, participants will have access to materials from BMS, other advocacy organizations, and third-party experts, including curated best practices, whitepapers, peer-reviewed articles, and multimedia content, to address the unique advocacy challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources to address needs such as digital fundraising and other issues exacerbated by the pandemic will also be available.

Source: Bristol Myers Squibb


Allergan Foundation Doubles COVID-19 Response Donations To $4 M
Allergan, which was acquired by AbbVie for $63 billion earlier this month (May 2020), earlier reported that the Allergan Foundation has doubled its total COVID-19 donations to raise its total to $4 million, with an additional $2 million in charitable grants for community organizations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The donations are dedicated to 57 organizations working on the front lines of the community response to the pandemic in New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, Ohio, Florida, and internationally.

In 2020 to date, the Allergan Foundation has awarded a total of approximately $17 million in charitable grants, which includes contributions to COVID-19-related projects and support programs for mental health, eye care and breast health.

Source: Allergan (now part of AbbVie)


Bayer To Donate 1 Million Chloroquine Tablets to Italy
Based on a protocol signed with the AIFA (Italian Medicines Agency), Bayer reported on April 24, 2020, that it will donate approximately one million chloroquine tablets, a drug approved for treating malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, as a potential COVID-19 treatment for use in Italy.

AIFA’s Technical-Scientific Commission added chloroquine, along with other drugs, to the list of medicines for off-label use outside of established indications to treat patients with COVID-19 on March 13, 2020. Additionally, chloroquine was included in a handbook for the treatment of people affected by the COVID-19 disease, released by the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases on March 13, 2020.

Bayer is exclusively donating chloroquine to health authorities to allow for coordinated and supervised emergency use of chloroquine outside of established indications. There is no clinically proven evidence for a positive benefit-risk ratio of chloroquine as a possible COVID-19 treatment.

Bayer is the manufacturer of chloroquine, which the Chinese health authorities have also included in treatment recommendations for COVID-19.

Source: Bayer


Merck KGaA Donates 2 Million N95 Medical-Grade Masks
Merck KGaA is donating two million N95 medical-grade masks to healthcare workers in Germany, France, and the US and is covering the costs of purchasing and transporting the protective equipment.

In March 2020, Merck KGaA announced its cooperation with other pharmaceutical and life science companies, as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop, manufacture and provide vaccines, diagnostics and treatment options for COVID-19. In April 2020, the company’s Life Science business announced its support of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University in the UK for the industrial production of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Merck KGaA and its affiliates have also set up their own production capacities for disinfectants at sites in Darmstadt and Wiesbaden, Germany, as well as in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Norwood, Massachusetts.

Source: Merck KGaA