Novartis, Eli Lilly and AbbVie join growing list of Big Pharmas severing ties with Russia
After watching the ongoing chaos of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a growing lineup of the world’s biggest pharma giants are taking their next, closely watched steps amid a global backlash — pulling out of Russia for a full slate of business activities and, for some, handing over profits on anything that remains.
The latest moves come after criticism of pharma for failing to stop doing business in Russia — while many of the world’s businesses have been pulling a hasty retreat out of Russia as bombs fall in Ukraine.
Novartis told Endpoints News today that it’s taking a two-fold response: an initial $3 million donation to multiple NGOs, and they “have decided to suspend any investments in Russia and stop all commercial marketing activities, as well as all scientific events, organized by us or by external parties.”
Merck is following suit, telling Endpoints that they “will not make further investments in Russia.” The company also said that the company does not have research or production facilities in Russia, and it is complying with international sanctions to ensure access to treatment. In addition to halting any new screenings and enrolling patients in ongoing clinical trials there, the company also has stopped planning for new studies.
AbbVie said in a statement that the pharma “has temporarily suspended operations for all our aesthetics products in Russia,” adding that the company has no manufacturing plants in the region and will continue to monitor their employees in Ukraine and the surrounding area.
For Eli Lilly, its response is two-fold: stopping the company’s export of non-essential medicines into Russia and donating profits from Russian sales to humanitarian relief organizations.
An Eli Lilly spokesperson clarified that the suspension will target certain drugs like Cialis.
The company kept details short, with a short blurb on its website saying, “We also have suspended all investments, promotional activities, and new clinical trials in Russia, as well as the exportation of non-essential medicines to that country.”
Roche told Endpoints that since their Russian colleagues play a role in access to medicine, the pharma will continue its operations there for the time being. The company has no production sites in the country. A spokesperson added that new site activation and new patient enrollment is currently on hold in Russia.
A spokesperson for Bristol Myers Squibb told Endpoints that “We have suspended new patient recruitments and clinical trial site activations in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. We have also suspended new clinical trial activations in those countries.” And while the company has 160 employees in Russia, there are no manufacturing or R&D facilities in the country.
Pfizer, Bayer and Sanofi were the first pharmas to take the industry response to the invasion one step further this week — with Pfizer stopping the start of new clinical trials in Russia and halting recruitment of new patients in the country into ongoing trials, even as it promises to continue providing drugs to patients already enrolled in studies.
Bayer announced it would stop all spending in Russia and Belarus not related to supplying essential products in health and agriculture, and Sanofi said it will immediately stop all advertising and media activities in Russia, as well as any new spending not related to the supply of “our essential medicines and vaccines.”
But a number of major companies have yet to officially follow suit. So far, many have stuck with employee-focused and/or humanitarian efforts.