An Unusual Threat: Pharma is Already Tackling the Monkeypox Outbreak

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Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology, June 2022, Volume 46, Issue 6

Cases of monkeypox are rising around the world, but it is unlikely the virus will become a pandemic problem.

In May 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) received reports of monkeypox cases in countries where the virus is not endemic and that have no direct travel links to endemic countries, which is ‘highly unusual’ (1). Despite the recent outbreak, it is considered unlikely that monkeypox will become a pandemic threat (2).

Pharma in the fight

Preparations into ways of tackling the current monkeypox outbreak have already begun. The therapeutic options that are on the table to help in this outbreak have been, for the most part, originally developed for smallpox (3).

So far, at the time of writing, there are four main players working and making deals to ensure treatments and vaccines are available for the monkeypox outbreak. These companies are Bavarian Nordic, Siga Technologies, Emergent BioSolutions, and Moderna.

Bavarian Nordic has already signed several supply contracts for its smallpox vaccine (MVA-BN, IMVANEX) with deliveries expected to start immediately to try to curb the current outbreak (4).

Siga Technologies has received requests for its antiviral treatment (TPOXX [tecovirimat]), which is a treatment for smallpox and can be used to treat monkeypox and cowpox in the European Union (5).


Emergent BioSolutions has entered into a definitive agreement with Chimerix for the acquisition of the worldwide rights to TEMBEXA (brincidofovir)—an antiviral treatment for smallpox (6).

Moderna has announced via Twitter that it is investigating potential monkeypox vaccines at a preclinical level (7).

Additionally, other companies, such as Roche and Abbott Laboratories, are working to develop diagnostic tests.

The silver lining of this recent and unusual outbreak, however, must be the fact that the bio/pharma industry and regulatory bodies have indeed learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and are capable of acting rapidly to mitigate the potential risks associated with a viral concern.


1. WHO, “Multi-Country Monkeypox Outbreak in Non-Endemic Countries,” Press Release,, 21 May 2022.
2. M. Kortepeter and Coronavirus Frontlines, “Will Monkeypox be the Next Deadly Pandemic? It’s Unlikely,” Forbes, 26 May 2022.
3. WHO, Monkeypox, Fact Sheet,, 19 May 2022.
4. Bavarian Nordic, “Bavarian Nordic Enters Additional Vaccine Contracts with Governments in Response to Monkeypox Outbreak,” Press Release, 30 May 2022.
5. M. Mishra, “Siga Gets Requests for Smallpox Drug in Europe as Monkeypox Spreads,” Reuters, 19 May 2022.
6. Emergent BioSolutions, “Emergent BioSolutions to Acquire from Chimerix its Exclusive Worldwide Rights to TEMBEXA (brincidofovir), the First FDA-Approved Smallpox Oral Antiviral for All Ages,” Press Release, 16 May 2022.
7. Moderna, “Our Official Statement on Monkeypox,” Posted on Twitter 23 May 2022 [Accessed 1 June 2022].

About the author

Felicity Thomas is the senior editor/European editor for Pharmaceutical Technology Group.

Article details

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Vol. 34, No. 6
June 2022
Page: 6


When referring to this article, please cite it as F. Thomas, “An Unusual Threat,” Pharmaceutical Technology Europe 34 (6) 2022.