Questions answered by Chito Zulueta, SVP and President of Lilly International.
We have received many questions from all corners since the start of the global SARS-COV-19 pandemic about what we as a company and an industry are doing to rise to the challenges of COVID-19.
Lilly’s presence in Europe dates back to 1934, and the company has weathered all sorts of storms along with the continent during this time. The most recent global crisis caused by the SARS-COV-19 virus is one of the most severe we have faced together and presents unique challenges to overcome. We rely on our core principles to guide our actions during its course. Below, I talk to these 4 principles and answer some common questions that we are being asked.
Supplying Medicines to Our Patients
How has the crisis affected your ability to supply medicines?
As we have communicated publicly in recent weeks, Lilly does not currently anticipate shortages for any of our medicines.
Lilly is committed to supporting people who need our medicines throughout these challenging times and is focused on ensuring a reliable supply. 40 million people around the world rely on our medicines every day, many with chronic diseases like diabetes that put them at greater risk of complications from the virus, and it is therefore our job to maintain a safe supply of medicines that help keep them well. This is our most solemn responsibility.
What are you doing to ensure adequate supply of your medicines?
Our priority is to ensure our manufacturing sites remain operational. Since the initial outbreak, we have closely monitored our supply chain for potential impact to the supply of our medicines in Europe and around the world. We continue to monitor the situation, and our manufacturing sites in the France, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the USA remain operational, with increased precautions in place to protect the supply of medicine and the welfare of our employees.
Lilly also has a global monitoring system that allows us to be in the best position to determine the necessary supply of medicines to meet our obligation to patients and health care providers in each country.
Keeping our Employees Safe
What steps have you taken to ensure the safety of your employees?
This, of course, is an incredibly important priority area for Lilly. Early on in the crisis, we moved to restrict employee travel and implement social distancing. Where possible, employees were directed to work from home. For those employees for whom on-site work in our labs and manufacturing facilities is essential to ensure the supply of medicines, we implemented the necessary precautions to ensure their safety and health. We are grateful to employees for their commitment to our purpose throughout the crisis.
Attacking the Pandemic
How are you utilising your healthcare expertise to fight the pandemic?
Lilly is confronting this pandemic with everything we can. We’ve redirected scientific efforts to help solve critical issues – including potential therapeutics, diagnostics and testing.
In March we joined efforts with AbCellera to co-develop antibody products for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, using samples taken from some of the first patients with COVID-19 in the USA. This collaboration will leverage AbCellera‘s rapid pandemic response platform and Lilly‘s global capabilities for rapid development, manufacturing and distribution of therapeutic antibodies.
How are you supporting others in combatting COVID-19?
Lilly has joined a cross-industry collaboration and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the development, manufacture and delivery of vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments for COVID-19. We are one company a consortium of 17 life sciences companies that are working collectively with national regulators and the World Health Organization. The purpose is to help ensure any promising studies into vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics are quickly scaled to people around the world, particularly those at highest risk and who are living in settings with limited resources.
In addition, Lilly has entered an agreement with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to study a product of Lilly as an arm in NIAID’s Adaptive COVID19 Treatment Trial. Trial is beginning in the US and potentially expanding to Europe and Asia. Results are expected within the next two months.
How are you helping governments, hospitals and other healthcare providers who are struggling to deal with the crisis?
Lilly has a long history of working together with local communities that is continuing and deepening during this crisis.
As one example, two of our scientists in our Kinsale manufacturing site have been part of a group of Irish scientists who have developed an effective formula for a key component of the Covid-19 testing process. The group has shared it to allow an alternate buffer make-up be available to scientific communities to support health services in the current global shortage of testing agents for the virus.
In another example from Spain, a group of our manufacturing engineers joined forces with a 3D printing engineering group in Madrid to develop protective shield screen masks for healthcare providers on the frontline in hospitals, community pharmacies and nursing homes.
In Italy, the Lilly Italy Foundation donated €1 million of insulin produced at their site in Sesto Fiorentino to Italian hospitals. The insulin was distributed according to the distribution methods indicated by the responsible Italian institutions. This is an example of Lilly responding to the needs of people living with diabetes, who need their insulin now more than ever.
As for making our employees available directly to national COVID-19 efforts, in the UK with a background in the medical profession are volunteering their services to assist in the fight against COVID-19 in hospitals and in the delivery of other essential healthcare work.
The pandemic crisis is a challenge for all of us. Throughout it, we are doing our best to proactively ensure we meet our commitments to patients and healthcare providers by ensuring an adequate supply of medicines, as well as to our employees by upholding their safety and health. Furthermore, we are proud to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and efforts to alleviate its worst impacts, through collaboration with healthcare sector, patient groups, national governments and the wider pharmaceutical industry.
If you want to learn more about the global efforts that Lilly is taking to tackle COVID-19, visit www.lilly.com.