Global pharma giants say they will not rush vaccine


Major global drug companies on Thursday said no matter how urgently action is needed against the novel coronavirus, they will not cut corners and rush a vaccine.

The chief executive officers (CEOs) of Eli Lilly, Gilead, Pfizer, Roche, and Merck (MSD) spoke at a virtual news conference hosted by the Swiss-based International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA).

Some said vaccines had been politicized and that they were being pressured to rush out a vaccine.

"This is most important in the area of vaccines because we are concerned about the anti-vax movement, about confidence in vaccine and deaths," said IFPMA Director General Thomas Cueni.

"We do want the agencies to fulfill the highest possible standards," said Cueni, referring to regulatory bodies such as the FDA in the US and those in other countries.

Kenneth C. Frazier, chief executive officer of Merck (MSD), said the highest quality, safety, and efficacy standards must be upheld everywhere.

"I think we all understand we have to move with urgency. But we will not sacrifice safety under any set of circumstances.

"We will not submit for approval -- that is emergency use approval or for more general approval -- any vaccine candidate before we have approval through phase three studies that allow us to make a reasonable estimate of what the safety and efficacy of that vaccine is."

Albert Bourla, the CEO of the US company Pfizer, agreed with Frazer, saying that many people are skeptical because the science has been "so much politicized."

"Many people will feel that just for political games, things will be submitted, or not submitted. And this is the worst situation society can be in," he said.

Bourla said he wanted to assure everyone the "all political pressure is irrelevant."

"We will never submit for authorization, or approval, any vaccine before we feel that it is safe and effective."/aa