Our Response to COVID-19

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

September 07, 2021

To our global community:

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect each of us and our communities. During this time, Bristol Myers Squibb continues to prioritize the continued supply of our medicines to our patients; protecting the health, wellbeing and safety of our workforce; and supporting 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 scientific discovery around COVID-19.

Bristol Myers Squibb has 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. We have additionally evaluated compounds in our portfolio for potential clinical study that may have an impact on the inflammatory immune response associated with COVID-19, including abatacept. This research is advancing as company-sponsored and investigator-sponsored trials.

We are participating in several cross-industry groups and public-private partnerships designed to foster collaboration and coordinate industry response efforts, including the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) program and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator.

We also organized and are leading a COVID-19 Testing Industry Consortium with 24 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.

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 transformational 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, continued in 2022, 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.

As a science-based company, we believe we have a responsibility to protect our workforce, communities and patients and reduce the spread of the virus. We are requiring all BMS colleagues in the U.S. and Puerto Rico to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 1, 2021.

We have taken a thoughtful and phased approach to bringing our remote workforce back to our 250+ sites around the world, and our customer-facing personnel are continuing to employ 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. No single approach fits for every site or market – our timelines and circumstances vary across the globe.

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, a 501(c)(3) organization, each contributed financial support and needed products (e.g., PPE and medical equipment) to relief efforts. Together, Bristol Myers Squibb and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation contributed more than $31 million in financial support and needed products (e.g., PPE and medical equipment) to relief efforts in 45 countries. The company and the Foundation both focused 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 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 contributed funding to support the work of more than 40 patient advocacy groups and professional societies. Bristol Myers Squibb engaged with more than 250 patient and professional organizations to support research, education, and other efforts to benefit patients. 

Our colleagues are supporting our communities.

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 January 14, 2022.

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