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Sandhu interacts with pharma companies during Philadelphia visit

·3-min read

Washington, Jun 14 (PTI) India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, visited the city of Philadelphia during which he interacted with some of the top pharmaceutical companies and had a meeting with the city mayor, who applauded India for supplying with two million N-95 masks last year.

“A pleasure to start the day in Philadelphia with a meeting' with Philadelphia Mayor Jim F Kenney, Sandhu said in a tweet as he kicked off his two-day trip to the city on June 11.

This was his first travel out of the national capital area during the COVID-19 crisis.

During the meeting, Kenney thanked India for supplying two million N-95 masks to Philadelphia in 2020, Sandhu said.

In September 2020, the mayor had sought India's assistance in facilitating export of N95 masks for the frontline workers of Philadelphia. The Indian Embassy responded by expediting the request and facilitating a supply of 1.8 million masks which were received by Philadelphia on October 5, 2020.

During the meeting between Sandhu and Kenney, the discussions focused on economic, healthcare and education ties and the dynamic diaspora.

They also discussed future healthcare cooperation, including in therapeutics. The mayor was keen on increasing air connectivity between Philadelphia and India.

Kenney and Sandhu discussed the potential to collaborate on sustainability initiatives, including electric mobility.

“From economic, healthcare and education ties to the dynamic diaspora, India values partnership with this historic city,” Sandhu said in another tweet.

Sandhu visited the Ocugen facilities and Jubilant Pharma office in Philadelphia.

The Jubilant Pharma based in Yardley, Pennsylvania, is a subsidiary of Jubilant Life Sciences Limited based in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. Ocugen Inc is a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing, and commercialising gene therapies to treat rare and underserved eye diseases and developing a vaccine to fight COVID-19.

Noting that Indian pharmaceutical companies are playing an important role in expanding public health in the US, Sandhu tweeted, “A fruitful interaction with Jubilant Pharma leadership in #Philadelphia at the new office. Their critical drugs lead the fight against the pandemic.” Jubilant Pharma has signed a non-exclusive licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences Inc for the manufacturing and distribution of Remdesivir (API) which has received an Emergency Use Authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of COVID-19 pandemic. The authorisation belongs to the injectable form of Remdesivir only.

During his meeting with Jubilant CEO Pramod Yadav, Sandhu discussed the critical drugs that Jubilant manufactures in the fight against pandemic.

The company officials briefed the Ambassador on the range of their activities and production capacities in the US. The company has created 2400 job in the US.

In April, Jubilant Pharma concluded safety and pharmacokinetic/absorption studies of a new oral formulation of remdesivir in animals and health human volunteers in India. The novel formulation can potentially lower the capacity constraint faced by the injectable form of remdesivir and guarantee broader and timely availability for the patients.

Ocugen CEO Dr Shankar Musunuri and other Board members briefed Sandhu that they were in discussions with the FDA, on development and commercialisation of COVAXIN in the US market.

In February, Ocugen entered into an agreement with Bharat Biotech International Limited (Bharat Biotech) for development and commercialisation of Covaxin.

“The India-US healthcare partnership continues to grow! Visited Ocugen facilities in Philadelphia and met their Board members. Discussed issues relating to bringing #Covaxin into the US,' Sandhu tweeted.

As home to some of the top academic research institutions in the country, Philadelphia has attracted a number of high-tech sectors, including pharmaceuticals. In 2019, Philadelphia became the sixth largest life sciences market in the US.

Sandhu also met Prof Tariq Thachil, Director of the Centre for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania. It is the first research institution in the US dedicated to the study of contemporary India. PTI LKJ SCY SCY

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