Johnson & Johnson (No. 5 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) announced that Janssen Research & Development LLC (Janssen) are collaborating with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) to develop a comprehensive portfolio of therapeutics and vaccines to protect communities in the event of an influenza pandemic and other infectious disease threats.
“Speeding the development of bio-preparedness countermeasures such as new therapies and vaccines requires that the private and public sectors join forces. No single government or company can do it alone,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “By bringing together the excellent scientific capabilities of Janssen with the world-class expertise of BARDA, this partnership enables us to accelerate our science and work towards having improved treatments for seasonal influenza and effective therapies in place should a pandemic arise.”
Today, there are more than one billion cases of influenza globally each year, resulting in approximately five million cases of severe illness and up to half a million deaths.1 The new collaboration has been formed as the centenary of the world’s worst influenza pandemic approaches. In 1918, the “Spanish Flu” caused approximately 50 million deaths worldwide and experts predict that a pandemic could be far more devastating if it happened in today’s globally mobile world.2,3 New innovations for influenza are needed to address the shortcomings of current preventative and therapeutic options as well as concerns about the growing emergence of antiviral resistance.
Through this agreement, created under the U.S. Government’s Other Transaction Authority (OTA), Janssen and BARDA, a component of ASPR, will invest equally to advance Janssen’s extensive portfolio of investigational influenza medicines and vaccines throughout the duration of the collaboration. This portfolio based partnership and combined investment will ensure that vital research is made possible.
Assets within Janssen’s portfolio include JNJ-5806 (formerly AL-794), a potent small molecule inhibitor of influenza A and B viruses including strains with pandemic potential, and a “universal” vaccine candidate, which aims to protect against all influenza strains. Additional investigational products in the portfolio include therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, as well as new targets for emerging pathogens of potential public health concern.
BARDA began using OTAs to create innovative business partnerships with industry that ensure more products reach the market, and that the public has access to important countermeasures. If new medicines from this portfolio are approved, Janssen will work with relevant health stakeholders to ensure that these products are accessible.
This agreement further builds on the collaborations Janssen and BARDA have already established in influenza with pimodivir, our potential first-in-class inhibitor of the PB2 subunit of the influenza A polymerase complex, as well as in response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This partnership provides a further portfolio of potential solutions to address the impact of influenza.
1. World Health Organization. Influenza (seasonal). [Online]. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/ Last accessed September 2017.
2. Taubenberger, J. et al. 1918 Influenza: The Mother of All Pandemics. Emerg Infect Dis. 2006;12(1):15-22. https://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1201.050979
3. The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind’s Gravest Dangers. Khan A., Patrick W. 9781610395915. Public Affairs, 2016.