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COVID-19 brings new collaborations to Australia and the EU Posted 08/05/2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities in Australia and the European Union have allowed drug producers to collaborate to ensure medicine production and supply.

In Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has authorized Medicines Australia (MA), the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) and their members to collaborate to manage the supply of essential medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The medical groups are now allowed to work together to help address the pandemic by sharing information on stock, inventory, manufacturing and the supply chain. It is hoped this will ensure an increase in the amount of medicines manufactured in Australia. This is an interim authorization and will be reviewed and MA and GBMA members can opt out at any time.

Meanwhile, on 19 March 2020, the European Commission announced a temporary framework to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. Within this, a project hoped to facilitate cooperation initiatives aimed at securing supply of hospital medicines during the pandemic. The outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe caused concern about disruption in the supply of essential medicines to patients. In addition, there has been a surge in demand for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) medicines, including sedatives, muscle relaxants, analgesics, and antibiotics. Medicines for Europe represents the generic, biosimilar and value-added medicines industries across Europe; and appealed to all companies with a marketing approval/licence for injectable forms of these medicines to make contact and participate in the project in accordance with the Commission decision and guidelines.

On 3 April 2020, the Commission amended the temporary framework and it now provides five additional types of aid measures:
         (i) Support for coronavirus related research and development (R & D)
         (ii) Support for the construction and upscaling of testing facilities
         (iii) Support for the production of products relevant to tackle the coronavirus outbreak
         (iv) Targeted support in the form of deferral of tax payments and/or suspensions of social security contributions
         (v) Targeted support in the form of wage subsidies for employees

This amended framework will be in place until the end of December 2020. The amendment includes a number of safeguards. For example, aid for the production of coronavirus-relevant products and equipment is inextricably tied to rapid implementation of subsidised projects. In addition, aid for coronavirus relevant R & D can only be granted if commitments are made to grant non-exclusive licences under non-discriminatory market conditions to third parties in the European Economic Area. This is intended to ensure that such progress benefits all European citizens.

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