Medicago, a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Quebec City, has announced that it reached an agreement with Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to supply up to 76 million doses of its vaccine candidate for COVID-19, subject to Health Canada approval.
Innovation, Science & Economic Development (ISED), another department of the Canadian federal government, will contribute C$173M (or approximately $131M) to Medicago to support its on-going vaccine development and clinical trials, and for the construction of its Quebec City manufacturing facility.
PMI’s Chief Executive Officer André Calantzopoulos said: “We welcome the collaboration announced between two departments of the Canadian government and Medicago to accelerate its efforts against COVID-19.
“Better outcomes can be achieved when governments and companies join efforts to promote shared objectives for the greater good. We are pleased to be able to support Medicago’s work to develop, substantiate, manufacture, and make available a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. We all hope they will be successful.”
Medicago began Phase 1 testing on volunteers on July 14 and is anticipating that Phase 2 trials will begin in early November 2020.
If Phase 2 trials are successful, Phase 3 trials are expected to begin in December 2020.
Philip Morris Investments B.V. (PMIBV), a subsidiary of Philip Morris International (PMI), has been a shareholder of Medicago since 2008, holding an approximately one-third equity stake.
Calantzopoulos said PMIBV has supported Medicago’s innovative plant-derived research and development focused on vaccines.
“The investment is consistent with PMI’s own efforts to leverage science and innovation,” he said.
Japan-based Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation (MTPC) is the majority shareholder and PMIBV’s partner in Medicago.
The PMI CEO said PMIBV and MTPC will contribute, among other things, additional funding to support Medicago’s efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
According to him, Philip Morris International (PMI) is leading a transformation in the tobacco industry to create a smoke-free future and ultimately replace cigarettes with smoke-free products to the benefit of adults, society, the company, and its shareholders.
“PMI is a leading international tobacco company engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, as well as smoke-free products and associated electronic devices and accessories, and other nicotine-containing products in markets outside the U.S.
“In addition, PMI ships a version of its IQOS Platform 1 device and its consumables to Altria Group, Inc. for sale under license in the U.S., where the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized their marketing as a modified risk tobacco product (MRTP), finding that an exposure modification order for these products is appropriate to promote the public health.
“PMI is building a future on a new category of smoke-free products that, while not risk-free, are a much better choice than continuing to smoke. Through multidisciplinary capabilities in product development, state-of-the-art facilities, and scientific substantiation, PMI aims to ensure that its smoke-free products meet adult consumer preferences and rigorous regulatory requirements,” the PMI CEO said.
PMI’s smoke-free product portfolio includes heat-not-burn and nicotine-containing vapor products.
As of September 30, 2020, PMI estimates that approximately 11.7 million adult smokers around the world have already stopped smoking and switched to PMI’s heat-not-burn product, available for sale in 61 markets in key cities or nationwide under the IQOS brand.