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Novartis agrees to make ingredients Roche's Actemra for COVID-19 patients

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ZURICH, April 15 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis has signed a deal to make ingredients for Roche's Actemra treatment that is being repurposed for people with COVID-19, the company said on Thursday.

The arrangement is the third transaction signed by Novartis following agreements with BioNTech and CureVac to make therapies for other firms to help fight the pandemic.

Actemra is a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis which is also being tested in various clinical trials to treat COVID-19 associated pneumonia.

Novartis will make the active pharmaceutical ingredients for the drug at its Singapore site, which will get the necessary technology and expertise during the second quarter of this year.

"Novartis is fully committed to collaborating with Roche in offering our proven biologics production capabilities," said Steffen Lang, Head of Novartis Technical Operations.

"As one of the world's largest producers of medicines, Novartis can mobilize its manufacturing capabilities on multiple fronts."

In March, Novartis signed a deal with CureVac to produce material for its COVID-19 candidate drug at its site in Kundl, Austria. The Swiss company also signed a deal with BioNtech to provide manufacturing capacity for a COVID-19 vaccination at its plant in Stein, Switzerland. (Reporting by John Miller, writing by John Revill; editing by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi)