Thursday

2nd Feb 2023

EU silent on US buying up world's remdesivir supplies

The European Commission on Wednesday (1 July) refused to speak out against the US decision to buy up most of the world's stock of remdesivir.

The drug, manufactured by the US-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead, has been proven to work against Covid-19.

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Two of the most senior European Commission officials, vice-presidents Margaritis Schinas and Valdis Dombrovskis, declined to respond to questions on the US move during a press conference on Wednesday.

Instead, the European Commission's official spokesperson services in an email sent later in the day announced it had taken "note of the announcement made yesterday regarding doses available for the US."

The tiptoeing may be due to broader efforts by the Commission to negotiate with Gilead for reserve doses of remdesivir for EU member states.

"Given the confidentiality of these discussions, no details can be given at this stage," said European commission spokesperson, Stefan de Keersmaecker, in an emailed statement.

But with the US buying up three months of stocks, leaving Europe and most the world without, the commission's strategy to secure the drug is likely to pose some tricky questions.

The Trump administration bought more than 500,000 doses, spanning all of Gilead's production for July and throughout most of autumn.

Similar tactics by the Trump administration in March to acquire the exclusive rights to a vaccine being developed by CureVac, a German firm, were roundly condemned.

In May, the French government expressed outrage after the CEO of the French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi said the US would get first doses on any Covid-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, Germany on Wednesday told Reuters news agency it had secured sufficient supplies of remdesivir.

"The federal government has early on secured remdesivir for the treatment of coronavirus patients. Currently, there are still sufficient reserves," Germany's health ministry told Reuters in a written statement.

The Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency (EMA) had only last week recommended granting a conditional marketing authorisation for remdesivir.

The drug is the first and so far the only Covid-19 treatment recommended for EU authorisation.

"As of 15 June, EMA has been in contact with developers of 132 potential Covid-19 therapeutics and 34 potential vaccines," the EMA said in an email.

For its part, the commission says their decision to speed up the process to grant a marketing authorisation for remdesivir in the coming days, is a demonstration of their commitment to ensure that scientifically proven effective treatments for Covid-19 are available to EU citizens.

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