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The life science industry’s response to the invasion of Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has, and will, affect the lives of millions of people and many life science companies and organizations are offering humanitarian support, including donations of medical supplies and financial support.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has for example donated approximately 7.4 million EUR, including approximately 700 000 EUR to the UNHC, to provide urgent support and protection to people forced to flee their homes. The funds will target efforts to help people who have fled the country, internally displaced people, and other vulnerable groups still living in Ukraine.

Read more: NordForsk suspends co-operation with Russia

Big pharma response

Danish Novo Nordisk has announced that their Kyiv offices were shuttered February 24, and the company has been in regular contact with their Ukrainian colleagues – all of whom have been reported safe and unharmed at this time.

“Furthermore, we are coordinating support in neighboring countries for colleagues and/or their families who wish to leave Ukraine.”

“We have provided emergency funds to all affected employees to help meet the costs of evacuation. Furthermore, we are coordinating support in neighboring countries for colleagues and/or their families who wish to leave Ukraine,” the company states. “We are also doing all we can to maintain the supply of essential medicines to patients living with chronic diseases in Ukraine.”

Also in Denmark, Lundbeck has donated 10 million DKK (approximately 1,500,000 USD) to the Danish Red Cross to support the emergency relief efforts and are exploring ways to donate essential medicines to the people who rely on them.

“Our priority has been and will continue to be to take care of our colleagues and patients both in Ukraine and Russia that are innocent people in the midst of war,” the company states.

“The concern for our employees in Ukraine is great and our thoughts are with them at the moment, as well as with all those affected by the war.”

In Finland, Orion Pharma has stated that they condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “The concern for our employees in Ukraine is great and our thoughts are with them at the moment, as well as with all those affected by the war. We are in regular contact with our employees in Ukraine and are doing our best to help them and their close-ones in this shocking situation,” states Orion Pharma.

Orion channels humanitarian aid to Ukraine through international organisations and has donated 51,000 EUR to the Finnish Red Cross to help those affected by the war in Ukraine.

UK-Swedish AstraZeneca has also announced that it supports urgent humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. The company has donated 1 million USD across Project HOPE and International Medical Corps. It is also matching employee donations to UNICEF and British Red Cross appeals.

Intensive care products

Swedish Bactiguard is, through a network of doctors at the Karolinska University hospital, supported by the Ukrainian Embassy, providing intensive care products that Ukrainian healthcare has asked for and need.

“It is essential that we can provide products that are urgently needed by the Ukrainian hospitals and can make a real difference,” says Bactiguard’s Chief Medical Officer and Deputy CEO, Dr Stefan Grass. “CVCs and ETTs are specifically used in surgery and intensive care. In this situation, in a country at war, one might assume there will be injured people in need of surgery or intensive care. If these products are not available in an intensive care unit, you cannot perform advanced intensive care. Endotracheal tubes are vital, as if you cannot secure the patient’s airways, you might not even be able to perform the surgery.”

Ensure that medicines reach the patients that need them

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) also stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

“As an industry dedicated to saving and improving lives, we stand for peace. Our first priority is to ensure that medicines reach the patients that need them in Ukraine, in the neighboring EU Member States, in Russia and in other countries where access to medicines may be negatively impacted. We call on all parties to facilitate the safe passage of medicines and vaccines to those in need. As a health-based industry and part of the wider EU healthcare community, we will work together to address the health needs of all those affected by this war, in Ukraine and in neighboring countries as part of the wider humanitarian relief effort,” the EFPIA states.

The global pharma supply chains are at risk

As the main exporter of medicines to Ukraine, India could experience severe disruptions, reports Pharma Logistics IQ. After Germany and France, India is the third-largest exporter of pharmaceuticals to Ukraine. Sanctions imposed against Russian banks may impact outstanding payments due for these products.

In addition, the cost of transportation is set to rise because oil prices are skyrocketing as a result of the conflict, describes Pharma Logistics IQ. This is likely to directly impact prices for many pharmaceutical firms.

The invasion hinders scientific progress

In a recent article in Nature19 February 2022, several Ukrainian researchers say that the conflict with Russia will hinder progress made since Ukraine’s revolution in 2014. “In general, this Russian tension is aiming to create chaos in Ukraine, and harm the economic situation,” said Irina Yegorchenko, a mathematician at the Institute of Mathematics in Kiev to Nature. “We know that we will have less funding for research, less opportunities to travel and zero chances of internal conferences in Ukraine.”

Ukraine has more than 31 universities with biological laboratories and more than 1.5 million college students, including more than 76,000 international students, according to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. The international science community has expressed support for Ukrainian colleagues, including efforts such as Science for Ukraine, which seeks to collect and disseminate opportunities for scientists displaced by the invasion, countless academic careers and decades of research hang in the balance.

Read more: The Russian invasion of Ukraine hinders scientific progress

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