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How VCU is taking on a major role in the fight against COVID-19

Posted at 10:55 AM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 10:55:48-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond will soon become the epicenter in the fight against COVID-19.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Tuesday it would work with Richmond-based Phlow Corporation to create COVID-19 fighting medicines and other drugs by bringing the ingredients used in those drugs -- often manufactured overseas -- back to labs in the United States.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us how health threats or other sources of instability can threaten America’s medical supply chains, potentially endangering Americans’ health,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “America has the capabilities, resources, and expertise to secure our medical supply chains.”

The Medicines for All Institute, based at VCU’s College of Engineering, is among the organizations taking part in the $350-million effort.

"We have an acute and long-term public health emergency in the United States that we are poised to help solve right now," VCU President Michael Rao said. "This public-private partnership positions us to ensure that our country will have the essential drugs it needs to treat public health threats such as COVID-19."

Right now, the government and Phlow are coming up with a list of medicines and ingredients “critically needed” for the COVID-19 response, according to a HHS spokesperson.

“The timeliness of this partnership cannot be overstated,” Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., Dean of the VCU College of Engineering, said. “The ability to provide critical generic pharmaceuticals for the treatment of COVID-19 now and in the post-pandemic world that are manufactured in the United States is invaluable for ensuring the health care of Americans.”

“I am humbled to work with such amazing talent at M4All and VCU to make this vision of securing advanced manufacturing capability for our country’s most essential medicines and their ingredients a reality,” Phlow Corp. co-founder and VCU alumnus Eric Edwards, M.D., Ph.D. said.

The drugs will be made around-the-clock at facilities across the United States, including a new facility to be built in Virginia.

This is a developing story.

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