Seven pharma firms keen on holding trials for coronavirus vaccines

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Seven pharmaceutical firms have expressed intention to conduct clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines in the country, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato S. de la Peña said.

Mr. de la Peña said the biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms executed their confidentiality disclosure agreement (CDA).

“Meaning to say that they are willing to submit all the…needed data on their trials to be able to (be) allowed to conduct clinical trials here in the country,” he said in an online briefing.

He said the sub-technical working group on vaccines had been in talks with 17 companies from seven other countries and had a bilateral agreement with them. Seven of them executed their CDA.

He said these include China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

Three others were from China, one was from Australia, and one from Chinese-Taipei, he said.

Chinese state-owned Sinopharm, one of the seven firms, however, said it was only interested in supplying the vaccine and not in conducting clinical trials phase three anymore, Mr. de la Peña said.

Sinovac, Gamaleya, and Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson have applied for phase three clinical trials in the country.

Sinovac application for clinical trials has already been approved by the Vaccine Expert Panel but it still has to pass the ethics board before it can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, he said. The Russian vaccine, meanwhile, is still in the process of submitting data required.

Mr. de la Peña said Janssen is not among the bilateral partners but it had submitted its clinical trials application. It has yet to complete remaining data needed to proceed with the review by the panel.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday said he already has the money for the vaccine and still has to look for more funds to inoculate the entire population.

Presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque on Thursday said the budget for the vaccines would be borrowed from the Landbank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines through the Philippine International Trading Corp., pending enactment of next year’s P4.5-trillion national budget.

About P2.5 billion had been allotted for vaccines in the 2021 budget. – Vann Marlo Villegas