Sandoz, the Novartis generics and biosimilars division, has expanded its manufacturing capacity to maintain a stable supply of generic medicines for patients, while also delivering on a number of additional commitments to contribute to the global COVID-19 response.
“We are proud that we have so far managed to ensure a dependable supply of medicines through swift action to increase production in the face of rapidly surging demand and multiple new obstacles throughout the supply chain,” said Richard Saynor, Sandoz CEO.
Sandoz committed in February to ensuring stable pricing for a basket of its essential medicines, which may help to treat COVID-19 patients. Sandoz is also supplying public and private partners with donations of a malaria drug with antiviral properties, currently being investigated as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Novartis has committed to donate 130 million doses of this potential treatment, world-wide, based on government requests.
Sandoz manufacturing sites in Kundl, Austria and Targu Mures, Romania are increasing supplies of key antibiotics needed to respond to the COVID crisis. The Sandoz antibiotics production facility in Kundl is the only remaining fully integrated large-scale manufacturing plant for these critical medicines in Europe, primarily serving the European market. The two largest Sandoz businesses, Biopharmaceuticals and Anti-Infectives, both have production based primarily in Europe.
On March 20th, Novartis committed to donate up to 130 million doses of a malaria drug with antiviral properties by end of May to support the global COVID-19 pandemic response. To supply this donation, the Sandoz manufacturing site in Wilson, North Carolina, USA has successfully doubled its production of this medicine in less than a month, while continuing to produce all other medicines in its portfolio. The facility is operating in a three-shift, five-day modus and is on track to make 80 million doses, the equivalent of almost two years regular demand for this medicine in the US, in just two months. Worldwide distribution is being executed in record time.
The Sandoz Wilson site has begun shipment of 30 million doses of the malaria medicine to the US Department of Health and Human Services for immediate use in controlled clinical studies. Sandoz also completed a 20,000 tablet donation to the University of Washington for a clinical trial to determine prevention of COVID-19 in 2,000 people who have previously been exposed to the disease. The trial is sponsored in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. Results of this clinical trial will be available in late 2020.
On April 30th, Novartis announced its agreement with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to proceed with a Phase III clinical trial with approximately 440 patients to evaluate the use of the malaria drug for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 disease. The clinical trial drug supply is provided by Sandoz.