Pharmaceutical giant Roche has called on governments around the world to work closely with the life sciences industry to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company has urged governments to help keep manufacturing and supply running to meet the increased worldwide demand for drugs and medical devices. It has also stressed the importance of ensuring the free flow of vital medical goods across national borders to keep manufacturing and supply running.

Roche has suggested pragmatic temporary adjustments to regulations on packaging, reviews and customs to expedite the delivery of urgently needed medical supplies as governments work together internationally to balance global needs.

The company received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) on 12 March for its cobas SARS-CoV-2 Test to detect the novel virus that causes Covid-19. The test is also available in markets that accept the European CE mark.

The tests will be shipped from Roche’s production sites to locations where appropriate infrastructure is in place and testing can begin without delay, the company said, adding that it is working around the clock to increase the quantity of devices available.

Roche estimates that at its current maximum production rate it will be able to supply millions of tests per month on the cobas 6800/8800 instruments and on the MagnaPure/Lightcycler solution.

Roche has advised healthcare authorities to focus Covid-19 testing on patients with signs and symptoms of the disease rather than broad testing of the healthy population.

On 19 March the company confirmed that it had initiated a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled Phase III clinical trial of the potential utility of the arthritis drug Actemra in severe Covid-19 pneumonia patients. The study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of intravenous administration of the drug on top of standard care in hospitalised adult patients with severe Covid-19 pneumonia compared to placebo on top of standard care.