After the vaccines it is now the turn of medicines to treat COVID-19.

UM – 05/2021

Since the early summer of 2020, no topic has occupied as much space in the coronavirus pandemic as issues surrounding vaccine development and manufacturing, reserved vaccine quantities and supplies, and the provisos surrounding approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). One year later, the EC is now setting out its ideas on how to advance the development of suitable medicines for treating the coronavirus. 

It's about time

The somewhat one-sided fixation on vaccines is also being critically commented on in Germany. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research admits that only about 17.5 million out of about one billion euros in research funds have been allocated to medicinal research since the pandemic started in Germany. The remainder is earmarked for vaccine development against COVID-19 (see here). However, experts have pointed out that any vaccine campaign must be accompanied by the development of therapeutics. The EU apparently wants to make up for this. It presented its strategy on this subject (COM(2021) 355 final) On May 6.

The therapeutic offer is very limited

It frankly admits: to date, Remdesevir is the only approved drug for treating patients suffering from COVID-19. That is about to change. Three new therapies are expected to be available by October 2021 and two more by the end of the year. This will be made possible by the fact that the EMA is already reviewing three medicines as part of its rolling approval procedure and it is also involved in an advisory capacity in more than 50 relevant development processes. Part of the EU’s strategy is to make full use of the accelerated approval tools for new potential “candidates". 

The customers are there

It should also be possible to draw on the flexible capacities of the "EU Fab" project for producing the new therapeutics. The EU has earmarked 40 million euros for this purpose. EU Fab is a Europe-wide network of production capacities for vaccines and medicines that can be used in the event of a crisis. In the long term it will become part of the future European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Agency (HERA). Production is also expected to become attractive because the EC intends to drive up demands for new COVID-19 medicines as part of the “rescEU” emergency reserve stock.