US drugmaker Biogen as well as for Spinraza is now famous as the epicentre of multiple coronavirus cases. In Argentina, its regional director has recovered, but the local branch has become a focal point for expansion of the illness along with the company’s other offices.
It’s already known that the US drugmaker Biogen, owner of the muscular atrophy drug Spinraza, was the source of a trail of COVID-19 cases.
It all began in Boston, Massachusetts, in February with a company convention that let to multiple contagions of the novel coronavirus among executives from all over the world, including Argentina.
But now a new article in the New York Times under the bylines of journalists Farah Stockman and Kim Barker has offered up a broad analysis of the events, with new details. The headline of the piece, «How a Premier U.S. Drug Company Became a Virus ‘Super Spreader’», already sets the tone from the outset. See article.
Maximiliano Gutiérrez is believed to be «case 7» detected at the start of March. Various reliable sources told Pharmabiz off the record that the company did not follow recommended protocols in the local branch and this had heightened concerns over potential cases.
This is the reason why the company began putting pressure on this and other media outlets to remove stories published on the incident. But this weekend, The New York Times has revealed the whole saga with names and a host of details.
The revelations have come as particularly embarrassing for involving a group of directors and professionals who through the nature of their work have the mission to fight illness rather than to spread it. The US newspaper states that while 99 employees living in Massachusetts were reported ill, the convention also spread the disease elsewhere. The two first COVID-19 cases reported in the state of Indiana were Biogen executives, as was the first case in Tennessee, and six of the first alerts in North Carolina.
The newspaper mentions that Peter Bergethon, head of digital medicine at Biogen transmitted the virus to his wife, a specialist in infectious disease, after the Biogen convention. It also mentions the case of Chris Baumgartner (44), who works at the drugmaker’s headquarters as VP East General Manager. He was patient zero in the state of Tennessee, and shared on his Facebook profile a long, detailed account of his experience, which received its own article in the New York Post with the exec’s photo in prime place. See article.
Another story that stands out is that of Jie Li, who worked on the company’s team for Alzheimer’s drugs. The executive took a diagnostic test for the coronavirus after showing symptoms but boarded a plane to Beijing with her husband and son before getting the results. After landing in China, she was put under investigation by the Chinese authorities for «obstructing the prevention of infectious illnesses,» an offence that carries up to seven years in prison. Mrs Li was later dismissed by Biogen.