European Medicines Agency taking action to accelerate development of medical products to treat and coronavirus

Move comes as concern rises over the spread of the disease across Europe and the rest of the world.
credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

03 Mar 2020

Guido Rasi, the European Medicines Agency's executive director, said the EMA has “activated its plan for managing emerging health threats.”

Rasi added, "The new coronavirus has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization, and we are drawing on the strong expertise of the European medicines network to provide fast-track scientific advice and give prompt feedback on any proposed medicine developments.”

The EMA, now based in Amsterdam, says it is “collaborating” and exchanging information with EU public health authorities and the commission.

 

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An agency spokesman said, “There are currently no commercially available medicinal products that are authorised to detect, treat or prevent infections with the virus. The EMA is ready to support medicine developers with all available regulatory tools to advance and expedite the development of effective measures to fight and prevent the spread of this virus.

“This is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously seen in humans. Although the most likely primary source of this outbreak is of animal origin, human-to-human transmission has been confirmed and investigations are ongoing to determine all sources. Cases have now been detected in several countries in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America.”

“Further global spread is likely.”

Reports of medicines shortages are “increasingly prevalent in Europe, warned, Christoph Stoller, President of Medicines for Europe, which represents the generic, biosimilar and value-added medicines industries across Europe.

He said, “Ensuring the availability of essential medicines should be an EU priority. The EU should tackle the economic and regulatory root causes of shortages and establish a pan-European mechanism to coordinate EU and national policies to reduce the risk of shortages and to avoid spill over effects through which one country’s policy would create supply issues in another.”

"There are currently no commercially available medicinal products that are authorised to detect, treat or prevent infections with the virus. The EMA is ready to support medicine developers with all available regulatory tools to advance and expedite the development of effective measures to fight and prevent the spread of this virus"  European Medicines Agency spokesman

He added, “Preventing supply issues becomes especially pertinent considering the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak globally.”

Meanwhile, the EMA, which was based in London but had to relocate because of Brexit, has insisted there is “no risk” to the supply of medicines due to the UK’s EU exit during the transition period.

In a bid to allay fears that the supply of medicines could be adversely affected, the agency has reassured consumers and businesses alike but also warned of “legal repercussions” when the transition period ends.

An EMA spokesman said that during the transition period until December 31 2020, EU pharmaceutical law will continue to apply to the UK “meaning that until the end of the transition period pharmaceutical companies can continue to carry out activities in the UK and supply their medicines as before.”

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