Innovative Medicines Canada’s (IMC) members are contributing to the fight against COVID-19 in a variety of ways. While many of our member companies are researching potential vaccines and treatments for the virus, others are helping out through donations, contributions or volunteer work to help some of those in most need, including health care workers, pharmacists and patients. Many of our member companies are helping by making donations at the community level, freeing up their employees to volunteer their healthcare expertise, or increasing their compassionate care programs by giving out free medicines. Here are just some examples of the ways in which our members are contributing.
Protecting and supporting healthcare workers and patients is a priority for our industry, and many of our members have generously donated to funds benefiting communities, patients and healthcare workers.
- Amgen has announced a range of initiatives to provide donations, supplies and expertise to aid Canadian communities fighting COVID-19. The impact of their program is valued at $1-million. For instance, they have made a donation to the CanadaHelps COVID-19 HealthCare and Hospital Fund to help charities and hospital foundations providing medical response support, lifesaving aid and critical equipment.
- AstraZeneca has made corporate donations to the Canadian Red Cross and Food Banks Canada, including matching employee donations to Canadian charitable organizations. The company has also donated 200,000 surgical masks to the Public Health Agency of Canada to be redirected to support healthcare workers on the frontlines.
- Janssen has mobilized to provide equipment, products and increased funding for front line health workers, including mental health support. Additionally, they have increased support to food banks in Canada, as more families turn to them for help. As part of North American employee giving efforts, Janssen employees in Canada have also contributed to funding for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, a global fund supporting work on behalf of the World Health Organization.
- Merck has donated approximately $200,000 to various charitable organizations across Canada to help support vulnerable population during this pandemic.
- Novartis will be giving $500,000 to community and patient groups as part of the company’s newly created Community Strong COVID-19 response program. The Community Strong program was initiated by Novartis in Canada and is an immediate response to support Canadians who are most in need.
- Pfizer has offered a new employee matching gift opportunity for COVID related causes, as well as having made significant donations to front-line community organizations, including the Breakfast Club of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, Centraide ̸ United Way, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Fondation CHU Sainte-Justine, Fondation Petits Frères des Pauvres, Help Age Canada, Lakeshore General Hospital Foundation and West-Island Community Shares.Pfizer Canada has also donated digital advertising space to Canadian Blood Services.
- Purdue Pharma has made a $25,000 donation to Food Banks Canada, making sure that families in need have access to meals.
With the pandemic straining healthcare services and community initiatives, support for volunteers has never been more important. Several of our member companies have freed their skilled staff to pursue volunteer opportunities related to COVID-19 relief.
- Amgen is encouraging highly skilled staff, including healthcare professionals, to volunteer in their local communities through the COVID-19 Amgen Canada Volunteering Program.
- Janssen offers employees who are licensed healthcare professionals, the opportunity to volunteer time to support COVID-19 medical efforts, through their COVID-19 Medical Personnel Leave. In addition, they are encouraging employees to support their local communities through volunteering where needed.
- Merck is encouraging employees to give back and support their communities, including allowing medically trained employees to volunteer their time to aid in our healthcare system wherever is needed.
- Novo Nordisk has recruited over 10 percent of its workforce for COVID-19 related volunteering programs and has placed more than half in both virtual and in-person roles. The majority of these placements utilize skilled employees who are trained healthcare professionals, and are helping to address urgent community healthcare needs and supporting seniors and food security programs.
- Pfizer allows colleagues who are licensed healthcare professional to volunteer their services to provide healthcare support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Access to Medicines
While IMC member companies had compassionate care and patient support programs in place before COVID-19, the crisis has created even greater need and the industry has responded. For instance, some companies are ensuring that patients continue to have access to the treatments they need by providing medicines free of charge to patients in Canada who have lost prescription drug coverage due to loss of employment related to COVID-19.
Other companies are offering offering home delivery of their products so that patients do not have to expose themselves to infection by going to a pharmacy or hospital. Still, others are making their products available free-of-charge to qualified patients in provinces where their product has yet to be reimbursed by provincial governments
Our industry is working harder and more collaboratively than ever before to play our part in responding to the pandemic in whatever ways we can. We’re proud to be one part of the solution to COVID-19, while giving back to the community to overcome this virus together.