Michał Parzuchowski/Unsplash
Drugs Pills Pharmaceuticals Photo By Michał Parzuchowski On Unsplash

US Awards Contract to Pharmaceutical Startup to Produce COVID-19 Drugs in the United States

May 19, 2020
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the contract with Phlow Corp. will reduce the United States’ dependence on imported drugs.

BARDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, announced May 19 that it awarded a $354 million manufacturing contract to Phlow Corp., a generic drug manufacturing company. The contract aims to shore up a domestic supply source for essential pharmaceuticals, some of which are currently being used to fight the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The four-year contract also includes, as an option, a “long-term sustainability” option of an additional $458 million.

BARDA Acting Director Dr. Gary Disbrow, in a statement, said “collaborating with Phlow and its partners is an important step in expanding our manufacturing of APIS”—active pharmaceutical ingredients—“and critical medicines at-risk of shortage.”

Phlow, which is based in Richmond, Virginia, is a pharmaceutical startup company that aims to “reduce the U.S.’s dependency on foreign supply chains,” according to its website. The company will work alongside private-sector partners Civica Rx, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medicines for All Institute, and AMPAC Fine Chemicals in order to fill the contract. According to Phlow, the money from the contract has already resulted in the delivery of over 1.6 million doses of generic drugs used to fight COVID-19 to the U.S.'s Strategic National Stockpile. Those included antibiotics, sedatives, and painkillers.

The company will use “continuous advanced manufacturing processes to help manufacture its API.” While the process reportedly “has not been widely adopted,” according to Phlow, it has the potential to “increase the quality, safety, and volume of medicines” and lower costs.

Dr. Eric Edwards, CEO and co-founder of Phlow, said his company’s “advanced manufacturing capability will significantly fortify our nation’s pharmaceutical supply chain for critical medicines, including many required to treat patients hospitalized with COVID-19.”

Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, said that historians would see the partnership as a “defining moment and inflection point” for future U.S. disease prevention, and that the United States has “relied on foreign manufacturing and supply chains for our most important medicines” for “far too long.”

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