PMI to contribute additional funding to support Medicago’s efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Philip Morris International (PMI) has announced that it is set to contribute additional funding to support biopharmaceutical company, Medicago to supply up to 76 million doses of its plant-derived COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

PMI CEO André Calantzopoulos

Medicago, a PMI subsidiary, is a shareholder in a biopharmaceutical company that reached agreements with two departments of the Canadian government to accelerate its COVID-19 vaccine candidate efforts.

Medicago, a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Quebec City, announced that it reached an agreement with Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to supply up to 76 million doses of its vaccine candidate for COVID-19, subject to Health Canada approval.

Innovation, Science & Economic Development (ISED), another department of the Canadian federal government, will contribute C$173 million (or approximately US$131m) to Medicago to support its on-going vaccine development and clinical trials, and for the construction of its Quebec City manufacturing facility.

In a statement through Business Wire, PMI’s CEO André Calantzopoulos said: “We welcome the collaboration announced between two departments of the Canadian government and Medicago to accelerate its efforts against COVID-19.

“Better outcomes can be achieved when governments and companies join efforts to promote shared objectives for the greater good.

“We are pleased to be able to support Medicago’s work to develop, substantiate, manufacture, and make available a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. We all hope they will be successful.”

According to the statement, Medicago began Phase 1 testing on volunteers on July 14 and is anticipating that Phase 2 trials will begin in early November 2020.

If Phase 2 trials are successful, Phase 3 trials are expected to begin in December 2020.

Business Wire reports that Since 2008, Philip Morris Investments B.V. (PMIBV), a subsidiary of Philip Morris International (PMI) (NYSE: PM), has been a shareholder of Medicago (in which it currently holds an approximately one-third equity stake) and has supported Medicago’s innovative plant-derived research and development focused on vaccines.

Japan-based Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation (MTPC) is the majority shareholder and PMIBV’s partner in Medicago.

Among other things, PMIBV and MTPC will contribute additional funding to support Medicago’s efforts to develop the COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The investment is consistent with PMI’s own efforts to leverage science and innovation as just recently it has become a leading tobacco products manufacturer in the delivering of a smoke-free future.

PMI, one of the top buyers of tobacco in Africa including Malawi, is leading a transformation in the tobacco industry to create a smoke-free future and ultimately replace cigarettes with smoke-free products to the benefit of adults (who would otherwise continue to smoke) the society, the company and its shareholders.

The company engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, as well as smoke-free products and associated electronic devices and accessories, and other nicotine-containing products in markets outside the U.S.

PMI introduced a new smokeless cigarette invention, the ‘IQOS’, which has been scientifically proven  that switching completely from conventional cigarettes to IQOS system significantly reduces the body’s exposure to harmful chemicals.

It ships the version of its IQOS Platform 1 device and its consumables to Altria Group, Inc. for sale under license in the U.S., where the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized their marketing as a modified risk tobacco product (MRTP), finding that an exposure modification order for these products is appropriate to promote the public health.

PMI is building a future on a new category of smoke-free products that, while not risk-free, are a much better choice than continuing to smoke.

Through multidisciplinary capabilities in product development, state-of-the-art facilities, and scientific substantiation, PMI aims to ensure that its smoke-free products meet adult consumer preferences and rigorous regulatory requirements.

PMI’s smoke-free product portfolio includes heat-not-burn and nicotine-containing vapor products.

As of September 30, 2020, PMI estimates that approximately 11.7 million adult smokers around the world have already stopped smoking and switched to PMI’s heat-not-burn product, available for sale in 61 markets in key cities or nationwide under the IQOS brand.

PMI is now ranked second in the world in cognizance that as a tobacco company it is reducing tobacco harm, lowering health risks and mitigating the world’s smoking burden.

This ranking was published in the newly-introduced Tobacco Transformation Index, that is set to be providing comprehensive metrics and insights into how some of world’s 15 largest tobacco companies are deploying (or not deploying) their capital and other resources in pursuit of reducing tobacco harm, lowering health risks and mitigating the world’s smoking burden.

The Tobacco Transformation Index ranks Swedish Match — which divested its cigarette business in 1999 — in first position; PMI in second and British American Tobacco in third.

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