Pharma responds to Türkiye/Syria earthquake

Turkish Kizilay in action
Bayer AG

Turkish Kizilay in action

With the death toll from the massive earthquake on the border of Türkiye and Syria spiralling upwards towards 10,000, pharma companies have stepped forward with financial aid and are looking at other ways they may be able to help.

German group Bayer said it has released immediate emergency funding of €1.5 million ($1.6 million) to support people affected by the disaster, that will be directed to both countries affected by the quake. €500,000 is going to the Turkish humanitarian organisation Ahbap, with another €500,000 to Kızılay (Red Crescent in Türkiye).

In addition, Bayer is donating €200,000 to the German Red Cross, to help its disaster response activities in Syria, and has launched an employee donation campaign with the German Red Cross and will match the funds donated by employees up to €300,000.

The company said it is also offering paid volunteering hours to qualified Bayer professionals in the region and preparing donations of vital medicines and agricultural products "based on an assessment of the most urgent needs".

Swiss pharma Novartis has also stepped up with a €1 million donation, saying it is currently "working to identify the best partners" to ensure the support reaches those who will need it the most.

It added it is in "close contact with our local team [...] working with them to assess the situation and ensure the wellbeing of [its] 1,600 associates and their families, as well as getting [...] medicines to patients in need," saying that, so far, all of its employees are reported as safe.

Consumer heath company Procter & Gamble, meanwhile, is donating thousands of disaster tents, nappies, sanitary pads, and hygiene packs of detergents, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and shampoos.

Turkish drugmakers have also started to mobilise, with Türk Ilaç ve Serum Sanayi donating 10,000 emergency medicines, including intravenous drips for use by the relief effort, and Eczacıbaşı sending hygiene products, including disinfectants, toilet paper, and wet wipes.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit in the early hours of Monday morning, with the epicentre close to the city of Gaziantep close to the border between Turkey and Syria, and was followed by another 7.5 magnitude a few hours later.

Attempts to rescue survivors trapped in the rubble are getting increasingly desperate, as temperatures in the area have fallen below freezing and are expected to fall even lower in the coming days.

While survivors are still being pulled from the rubble, in some affected areas – particularly in Syria, where the efforts are being hampered by infrastructure degraded by years of war – the authorities have started to say it is increasingly becoming a recovery, rather than a rescue operation.

8 February, 2023