Boehringer Ingelheim has significantly stepped up its support to the fight against COVID-19. A Global Support Programme has been set up to bring more financial relief, protective materials and medicine donations to healthcare institutions and communities in need around the world. Boehringer Ingelheim initially started a €1 million donations programme in January for affected regions in China. With the corona virus spreading to become a global pandemic, efforts to provide relief and scientific support grew strongly these past few weeks. This ultimately resulted in a Global Support Programme with four focus areas:
Boehringer Ingelheim has made available €5.8 million for financial and in-kind donations for local emergency aid across its markets. This includes, for example, protective masks, disinfectants, inhalers and medicines. The company is also working with local organisations that use financial and medicine donations to organise help for patients in their communities.
Research for COVID-19 therapies
Since January, a growing team of currently more than 100 highly engaged Boehringer Ingelheim scientists from all areas of research and development have contributed to projects aimed at finding potential treatment solutions for COVID-19. Moreover, an increasing number of collaboration partners and service providers is bolstering the team’s efforts. Most of the projects are part of larger collaborative efforts with academia, biotech and other pharma companies. Among them is a call by the Innovative Medicines Initiative of the EU, to which Boehringer Ingelheim is planning to commit in excess of 11,000 work hours in R&D. The company also joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation COVID-19 Therapeutic Accelerator.
More than 100 highly engaged Boehringer Ingelheim scientists have contributed to projects aimed at finding potential treatment solutions for COVID-19
In addition, Boehringer Ingelheim supports scientists worldwide with its open innovation portal opnMe.com, which offers 6 anti-viral compounds out of 43 high quality pharmacological tool compounds at no cost for testing of research hypotheses. As this work evolves, the company will commit further experts from multiple disciplines, as well as increased lab capacity.
In many communities, helping hands from volunteers, for example with a medical or nursing background, are urgently needed. Boehringer Ingelheim offers all of its 51,000 employees the opportunity to take up to 10 days of paid leave to join approved external organisations as a volunteer to bring COVID-19 relief. Employees who are unable to perform their work on-site or from home, are given the opportunity to volunteer for longer while paid their regular salaries, until they can resume their work.
Making more health relief fund
An €580,000 relief fund has been launched to support the global Making More Health network of social entrepreneurs in Kenya and India, as well as the communities in which they live and work. The fund will help social enterprises and their activities to sustain a longer period of low economic activity and will invest in social entrepreneurial ideas that can help reduce the risk of the Corona virus spreading.
“Especially in times like these Social Entrepreneurs around the world are well placed to leverage their proximity to those in needs”, said Jean Scheftsik de Szolnok, member of the Board of Managing Directors and one of the founders of the MMH movement. “MMH communities such as self-help groups in India or people suffering from albinism in Kenya, have started to produce soap and at the same time education programmes on hygiene awareness in their neighbourhoods.” Over the past years more than 750 students at the MMH school and some 1,000 families in farmer cooperatives have been trained in hygiene and soap production in Kenya and India.
“As a pharmaceuticals company, we feel a strong commitment to offer our help to patients, and to those who help them”, said Hubertus von Baumbach, Chairman of the Board of Managing Directors. “Many of our employees want to participate in the programme: we offer support through donations and paid-leave volunteering, engage in significant scientific projects and bring relief to communities in developing regions in Kenya and India, with whom we have a decade-long relationship. All this, plus the drive that I see with colleagues to ensure continued production of medicines, is dedicated to the many, many people who suffer from COVID-19. Our thoughts are with them and their loved ones.”