Our Response to COVID-19

A Letter from CEO and Chairman, Giovanni Caforio, M.D.

March 09, 2021

To our global community:

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect each of us and our communities. Bristol Myers Squibb is taking action to ensure the continued supply of our medicines to our patients, protect the health, wellbeing and safety of our workforce, and support research and relief efforts across the globe. 

Throughout this crisis, our more than 30,000 colleagues have never stopped working for patients, have demonstrated incredible resolve and support for one another, and have contributed meaningfully to global relief efforts. Our emergency response team has been monitoring the situation since January 2020 and quickly acting on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) to support our people, our patients, and our communities.

We are helping to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and delivery of diagnostics and treatments for COVID-19. We have a global exclusive license to develop, manufacture and commercialize Rockefeller University’s novel monoclonal antibody (“mAb”) duo treatment that neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 virus for therapy or prevention of COVID-19. The preclinical data suggest that this could enable effective treatment against multiple variants of the virus using a low dose subcutaneous administration, which would increase access to the medicine globally by eliminating the need for intravenous infusion. 

We are participating in several cross-industry groups and public-private partnerships designed to foster collaboration and coordinate industry response efforts. We are one of 15 companies participating in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to identify concrete actions to accelerate treatments, vaccines, and diagnostics. 

Bristol Myers Squibb organized and is leading a COVID-19 Testing Industry Consortium with 18 other healthcare companies that aims to inform, improve, innovate, and accelerate various aspects of testing for COVID-19, ranging from research to clinical diagnostic applications. 

Bristol Myers Squibb initiated a proof-of-concept clinical trial assessing the safety and efficacy of abatacept in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The trial is currently enrolling.

We are also part of the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) initiative, a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Foundation for NIH (FNIH), as well as a number of other industry, not-for-profit, and public health organizations, to develop a national strategy for coordinated COVID-19 research response. As part of this initiative, Bristol Myers Squibb is donating doses of apixaban and abatacept to NIH Phase 3 clinical trials funded through Operation Warp Speed assessing potential treatments for patients with COVID-19.

Bristol Myers Squibb is also involved in a consortium of companies that is focused on sharing data and identifying molecules with the strongest scientific rationale for investigating with clinical trials, and accelerating them into studies. 

Our contributions to COVID-19 research reflect collaborative and productive discussions internally and with the broader life sciences community about how we can have the greatest impact given our company’s areas of strength, and we will continue to engage in this way to support the significant and rapid effort underway as the science evolves.

We continue to deliver high-quality medicines to patients.

An important element of keeping our promise to patients, their families, and our healthcare providers is to ensure that our supply chain is robust and carefully managed. We are diligently monitoring manufacturing and supply facilities across the globe and implementing proactive measures. We have not experienced any disruption in our clinical or commercial supply chain due to the pandemic.

We are also working with health authorities and investigators to appropriately manage the ongoing operations of clinical trials. Our highest priorities during this time are protecting the safety of our trial participants and personnel at Bristol Myers Squibb and our clinical trial sites, while ensuring regulatory compliance and the integrity of our science. To that end, we have provided clinical trial investigators with updated guidance regarding the conduct of Bristol Myers Squibb clinical trials worldwide in light of COVID-19, and in consideration of guidance from health authorities, where applicable.

We are committed to providing support to patients who need our medicines.

We recognize this remains a challenging time for everyone, and we know patients may be facing additional hardships. As more patients face difficult decisions in their daily lives, it is important to continue their treatments. We are proud to offer relief through our Bristol Myers Squibb patient support programs.  

In 2020, we expanded our existing patient support programs to help eligible unemployed patients in the U.S. who have lost their health insurance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The expanded program offers access to Bristol Myers Squibb medicines for free, including some of the company’s most widely prescribed products, as well as those prescribed via telehealth services. In 2020, Bristol Myers Squibb, through both company patient support programs and donations to independent charitable organizations, such as the Bristol Myers Squibb Patient Assistance Foundation, Inc., provided over $1.5 billion in free medicines to more than 116,000 patients in the United States. Additional information can be found here. All Bristol Myers Squibb patient support programs, including additional eligibility requirements, can be reached by calling (800) 721-8909.

We are taking every precaution to help minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Our customer-facing personnel are employing a combination of in-person and remote interactions to ensure continued support for healthcare professionals, patient care, and access to our medicines across our global markets.

We are grounded in science and taking action to protect the health and safety of our colleagues.We have taken a thoughtful and phased approach to bringing our remote workforce back to our 250+ sites around the world and into the field. No single approach fits for every site or market – our timelines and circumstances vary across the globe. We are monitoring local conditions and government direction closely and adjusting our plans as appropriate. 

Across our company, we are being guided by the following core principles:

  • Serving the Needs of our Patients and Customers
  • Prioritizing Health and Safety
  • Following Medical Advice and Government Direction
  • Leading with Compassion and Flexibility
  • Modeling Key Learnings

We are learning valuable lessons on being nimble and collaborating in new ways, and this experience is driving us to become an even stronger and more resilient organization.

Read more on our principles here.

We are contributing to COVID-19 relief efforts.  

Bristol Myers Squibb and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation have each contributed financial support and needed products (e.g., PPE and medical equipment) to relief efforts. In 2020, the company contributed nearly $10 million to organizations in 45 countries, and the Foundation contributed more than $21 million to organizations in 42 countries. Both the company and the Foundation are focusing on areas of highest unmet need, including providing for basic human needs, addressing medical supply shortages, and supporting continued care for the most vulnerable populations.   

The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation has supported nearly 50 organizations in the U.S. and more than 150 organizations globally that care for patients and that support those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. In addition, the Foundation has contributed funding to support the work of more than 40 patient advocacy groups and professional societies. To support research, education, and a wide range of efforts to benefit patients in need, Bristol Myers Squibb is engaging with more than 250 patient and professional organizations.  

Our colleagues are contributing meaningfully to relief efforts.

We support our global employees who are licensed healthcare providers and want to volunteer in local hospitals to help in the COVID-19 pandemic, providing full pay and benefits.

Our colleagues across the world have also volunteered their skills virtually. Through Skills2Give, an ongoing Bristol Myers Squibb volunteer program, colleagues in the U.S., U.K., and Australia have the option to select from virtual volunteer opportunities with thousands of nonprofit organizations. Over 3,800 employees are registered with the program.

At the company’s inaugural BMS for Community event on October 1-4, 2020 Bristol Myers Squibb employees, their families, and patients ‘Moved for Minutes’ in activities such as walking, running, swimming, cycling or volunteering. Participants of the event exceeded the 1 million minute goal, resulting in a $1 million donation from Bristol Myers Squibb to the American Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

As a responsible global citizen, we will take all necessary actions to promote public health and carry out our mission of providing life-saving medicines to the patients who depend on us.


This letter originally posted on March 16, 2020 and was most recently updated on March 9, 2021.

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