March 1, 2021

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EU commissioner: AstraZeneca logic might work at the butcher’s, but not in vaccine contracts

2 min read
'We reject the logic of first come, first served,' says Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides on Wednesday flatly rejected AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot’s claim that the company was only required to make a “best effort” rather than be contractually obligated to deliver a certain quantity of coronavirus vaccine.

“Pharmaceutical companies and vaccine developers have a moral, societal and contractual responsibility which they need to uphold,” Kyriakides said. “The view that the company signed a best effort agreement is neither correct nor it is acceptable.”

An EU official earlier in the day called the AstraZeneca’s shortfall “massive”: The EU will get only a quarter of what it was promised by the end of March.

Kyriakides said the EU is demanding that AstraZeneca make use of all of its production facilities — including two in the U.K. and two on the Continent — to fulfill the Commission’s purchase contracts. The EU’s contracts, which call for up to 400 million doses, didn’t restrict production to its factory in Belgium, and the EU in fact expected the drugmaker would use all of its capacity.

“We reject the logic of first come, first served,” she said. “That may work at the neighborhood butcher’s but not in contracts and not in our advanced purchase agreements.”

She said that the Commission and AstraZeneca signed an advanced purchase agreement — which an EU official said was worth €336 million — to build manufacturing capacity “so they can deliver a certain volume of doses the day [the vaccine] is authorized,” a decision expected on Friday.

“The logic of these agreements is as valid then as it is now,” she continued. “We provide a de-risking investment upfront, in order to get a binding commitment from the company to pre-produce even before it gets authorization. Not being able to ensure manufacturing capacity is against the letter and the spirit of our agreement.”

Kyriakides also raised again the suspicion that AstraZeneca can’t meet its first quarter orders because it sold doses to other countries.

“No company should be under any illusion that we don’t have the means to understand what is happening,” she said. “We do have a knowledge of the production of the doses, where they have been produced and — if they have been sent anywhere — where this is.”

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to note that AstraZeneca has four manufacturing sites in Europe.

Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/health-commissioner-astrazeneca-logic-might-work-at-butcher-but-not-in-contracts/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

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