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$350M Federal Contract for Richmond Firm Fighting COVID-19

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Phlow CEO Eric Edwards. (Photo: Phlow Corporation)

*This story was reported by VPM News intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza.

Phlow Corporation, a Richmond-based pharmaceutical company, is partnering with the federal government to increase domestic production of medicines to treat COVID-19 patients. The Department of Health and Human Services announced the $354 million contract Tuesday.

Eric Edwards is the CEO of Phlow. He says the company's initial focus was on developing key pediatric medications in the United States, but that mission changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“We needed to pivot immediately because we saw that there were gonna be numerous essential medicines that were already on the drug shortage list pre-COVID-19 that COVID-19 would exacerbate,” Edwards said. “It would get worse and we could potentially run out of these key medicines.” 

Phlow is collaborating with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medicines for All Institute, as well as other domestic manufacturers to produce medications that are critical for treating the coronavirus. 

“This includes essential medicines for sedation to get patients on for the ventilators, blood pressure control, critical ICU meds, certain antibiotics, medicines for pain control,” Edwards said. “All of them were exclusively foreign-manufactured.”

The pharmaceutical products created under the federal contract will be distributed not only to hospitals in need, but also back to the federal government, in what Edwards calls the first-ever “strategic active pharmaceutical ingredient reserve.”

“The goal is to protect and secure the key ingredients to our essential medicines in case of a supply chain disruption, either from trade disputes, a natural disaster or a pandemic.”

The company will be expanding a manufacturing facility in Petersburg and expects to create around 350 new jobs in Central Virginia.