Other AMED and JPMA strengthen collaboration on drug development


The rapidly accelerating COVID-19 outbreak is a challenge that must be addressed globally. AMED and the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (hereinafter JPMA) will cooperate to strengthen industry-academia-government collaboration, including with Japanese pharmaceutical companies, towards ‘Rapid development of pharmaceutical products to treat COVID-19 infection’. AMED and the JPMA have confirmed they will implement the following 3 countermeasures as an ‘All Japan’ approach to tackle the outbreak.

  1. (1)Provision of small-molecule drugs (drug repositioning)
  2. (2)Vaccine development using BSL-3 laboratory facilities
  3. (3)Research and development of neutralizing antibody pharmaceuticals
(1)Provision of small-molecule drugs (drug repositioning)
  • Drug repositioning is the use of existing approved drugs to treat diseases for which they were not originally intended. If existing drugs can be found which are effective in the treatment of COVID-19, supply of those drugs could stop the spread of infections. Following requests from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, pharmaceutical companies are already cooperating and providing pharmaceutical compounds for screening.
  • Pharmaceutical compounds that are found to be potentially effective through in silico screening conducted by the AMED BINDS program will be provided for further screening through the JPMA.
(2)Vaccine development using BSL-3 laboratory facilities
  • In vaccine development, experimental facilities that can safely handle virus samples (at least biosafety level 3, BSL3) are essential.
  • One pharmaceutical company has already expressed an interest in developing a vaccine, using virus samples in experiments conducted in BSL-3 laboratory facilities.
(3)Research and development on neutralizing antibody pharmaceuticals
  • If neutralizing antibody drugs can be developed from blood samples taken from patients infected with COVID-19, it would be a turning point for treatment of the infection.
  • AMED funding is currently being used to collect blood samples from patients infected with COVID-19, and following a consultation among member companies of the JPMA, three member companies were found to be willing to work on neutralizing antibody drug development using plasma products from those blood samples.

AMED and the JPMA will cooperate to take forward these countermeasures against the COVID-19 outbreak, and a help desk will be set up at AMED to provide guidance on these activities.


Last updated 03/27/20