By Dr. Mike Ybarra, MD | May 20, 2020

As someone who works both in the biopharmaceutical industry and as an emergency physician, I love being involved in two spaces that are playing critical roles in the COVID-19 response. I’m inspired by PhRMA member companies who are stepping up to fight this crisis in the labs and living the principles we all set forth, like screening our vast global libraries of medicines to identify potential treatments and expanding our members’ unique manufacturing capabilities. The biopharmaceutical industry is leaving no stone unturned.

PhRMA members are working around the clock to research and develop new vaccines and treatments, as well as test existing medicines to help those infected with the virus. A number of treatments and vaccines are in development, with more than 650 clinical trials already underway. Researchers are working on new antiviral medications to interfere with ways the virus infects cells and reproduces. Antibody-based drugs may be able to mobilize the immune system against the virus. Other treatments being tested would help better manage conditions that are associated with coronavirus. And companies are taking multiple approaches to find a vaccine, as more “shots on goal” will increase the chances of success.

A number of treatments and vaccines are in development, with more than 650 clinical trials already underway.

Companies are also exploring ways to leverage existing technologies that provide the ability to rapidly scale up production once a potential vaccine candidate or treatment is identified. And we are working with governments and insurers to ensure that when new treatments and vaccines are approved they will be available and affordable for patients.

The industry is contributing to those on the frontlines by providing medical supplies and personal protective equipment so that seriously impacted communities are receiving necessities like face masks, diagnostic tests, and other medical supplies. Millions of dollars of direct monetary and in-kind contributions are being used to support organizations at the heart of the crisis who can have an immediate impact for infected patients and impacted communities.

Biopharmaceutical manufacturers are also donating medicines that may be effective in treating patients with coronavirus. These medicines, which are approved for other diseases, could decrease the burden of the virus on hospitals by reducing the length and severity of disease in patients. We’re also hearing from experts at our companies on topics like antimicrobial resistance and impacted vulnerable populations during this time.

Finally, the biopharmaceutical industry is donating time. Three companies recently announced that they are empowering employees with medical or laboratory expertise to completely or partially pause their current roles and volunteer their medical skills to help their local health care organizations. The companies will support their efforts by maintaining the members’ base pay and providing full benefits.

I am proud that so many biopharmaceutical companies are working as hard as they can to solve this crisis as fast as possible. We need all companies collaborating to beat COVID-19. It’s not company versus company rushing to be the first to market. Rather, we’re all united in the fight against this virus. And I think we can do it.

Dr. Mike Ybarra is an emergency physician in Washington, D.C. and Vice President of Medical Affairs and Strategic Alliances at PhRMA. Learn more at