The European Commission announced on Wednesday that it has struck a deal with the producer of remdesivir, the first drug to be approved by the EU for treating Covid-19.
The Commission signed a contract with American pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences that will see doses of remdesivir, also known by its commercial name Veklury, be made available to all Member States and the UK from August. The drug was originally developed to treat Ebola.
Remdesivir was approved as a treatment of Covid-19 by the Commission on 3 July as part of a procedure that was accelerated to speed up the authorisation process, to ensure that effective medication reaches the European population as soon as possible. The medicine was reviewed and recommended by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Remdevisir is used to treat people from age 12 onwards with pneumonia, who are in need of supplemental oxygen.
In the early stages of the EMA's review, remdesivir was tested on human patients through clinical trials and “compassionate use”-programmes, that allow for unauthorised medication to be given to consenting patients under controlled conditions. Belgium was one of the Member States testing the drug in March, alongside the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
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The €63 million contract will be financed by the Commission’s Emergency Support Instrument, designed to help Member States fight the coronavirus pandemic. The deal guarantees the treatment of approximately 30,000 patients severely affected by Covid-19.
Currently, the Commission is working on an agreement with Gilead Sciences to ensure a steady supply of remdesivir from October onwards.
“In recent weeks, the Commission has been working tirelessly with Gilead Sciences to reach an agreement to ensure that stocks of the first treatment authorised against COVID-19 are delivered to the EU,” Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, stated.
Kyriakides called the agreement “another important step forward in our fight to overcome this disease”, saying the Commission “is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to secure access to safe and efficient treatments.”
In June, the US purchased the “global stock” of more than 500,000 treatments, disabling any other country from using remdesivir. The medicine was expected to remain out of stock for three months, but Gilead Sciences seems to have recovered since.
The Brussels Times