Novartis AG is in talks to help produce other companies’ Covid-19 vaccines or treatments, potentially adding another pharma giant’s resources to boost supply as fights over access intensify.
The company is “in conversations with a range of different players,” Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan said on Bloomberg TV, with an agreement possible in the coming days or weeks. “We have production capacity across our network that we’re willing to make available,” he said, for everything from monoclonal antibodies to vaccine production.
Novartis is the biggest maker of drugs by volume in the world, Narasimhan said in a separate interview. The company makes more than 70 billion doses of medicines each year across 50 facilities and is investigating how best to deploy that capacity, he said.
“We have the full suite of technologies,” he said. “We have the capabilities to make many of these different technologies available.”
Novartis traded 1.3 per cent lower in Zurich amid a general retreat in share prices.
The talks come amid a global scramble for vaccines that’s raised tensions between the European Union and AstraZeneca Plc over supplies of the British drugmaker’s shots. AstraZeneca rejected demands that it take Covid-19 vaccine supplies from its U.K. factories to increase doses going to the bloc.
Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE also cut shipments to some governments this month due to renovations at a factory in Belgium.
French pharma giant Sanofi this week agreed to help produce Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine at a facility in Frankfurt, with deliveries scheduled to start this summer. The deal will produce more than 125 million doses of the messenger RNA vaccine for the European Union.
German company Merck KGaA is also considering several ways to help BioNTech increase capacity, including in the so-called “fill and finish” stage of vaccine production, according to spokesman Thomas Moeller. The company is already supplying raw materials and research products to more than 50 Covid vaccine developers around the world, including BioNTech.
A BioNTech spokeswoman declined to comment on potential partnerships.