Roche to donate essential medicines to Ukraine

Roche (SIX:RO, ROG; OTCQX:RHHBY) announced that it would ship 150,000 packages of the antibiotic Rocephin to Ukraine, among other medical supplies, including diagnostics.

Rocephin is a broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotic.

The World Health Organization cites it as an essential medicine.

Basel, Switzerland–headquartered Roche noted in a statement that it is working with various international and local partners to ensure delivery to the war-torn country. It also vowed to continue delivering medical supplies to Russia and Belarus “within the scope of the available possibilities.”

The Ukrainian government estimated that approximately 2,000 civilians had died in the attacks to date, although Ukraine’s emergency services agency underscored that the number was “approximate.”

Roche noted that it had enrolled Ukrainian patients in ongoing clinical trials and said it would work to ensure continued access to treatment to those individuals.


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Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany acquires Exelead to bolster mRNA offerings

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase Exelead (Indianapolis), a biopharma contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO). Not to be confused with the similarly named Merck & Co., the German company will pay roughly $780 million in the acquisition.

Exelead specializes in creating lipid nanoparticle and pegylated formulations. Exelead has fared well during the pandemic. mRNA-based therapies are in high demand, and Pfizer tapped the company to help make its COVID-19 vaccine. (Additionally, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany has supplied lipids to bolster Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine production.)

“Novel modalities, particularly mRNA, present a highly attractive business opportunity as pharma and biotech pipelines are increasingly building on them beyond COVID-19,” said Belén Garijo, CEO of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, in a press release.

The acquisition of Exelead will allow the…

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AWS and pharma heavyweights join forces on AI-based drug discovery lab

The goal of using AI to transform drug discovery and development may not be novel. But a recent alliance is unique in both the stature of companies belonging to it and its choice of an innovation model.

Big Pharma firms AstraZeneca (LON:AZN), Merck KGaA (ETR: MRK), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Teva (NYSE:TEVA) will partner with Amazon Web Services Inc. (NSDQ:AMZN) and the Israel Biotech Fund (IBF) on what they term a “first-of-its-kind innovation lab” known as AION Labs.

“The launch of AION Labs will provide an opportunity for the healthcare and life sciences industry to uncover new ways to reduce the time and cost for discovery, facilitate open collaboration and interoperability, and ultimately improve patients’ health outcomes,” said Dan Sheeran, director of healthcare and life sciences at Amazon Web Services, in a statement.

AION Labs has also formed a strategic partnership with the biomedical research institute BioMed X (Heidelberg, Germany).

The lab…

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