U.S. outlines plans to move COVID-19 drugs, vaccines to commercial market
With federal funds running out, the Biden administration has accelerated plans to transition the government-led procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics to the commercial market, a top government health official said Wednesday.
During the pandemic, the federal government led the purchases of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics making them available to Americans at no cost.
“…it has been more than 530 days since we last received new funding for COVID-19 and without additional funds it will be difficult to continue procuring and distributing these countermeasures, Dawn O’Connell, HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, wrote in a blog post Wednesday after a meeting with industry stakeholders.
More than 100 representatives, including officials from state and local government and those from health care providers and insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and vaccine makers, attended the meeting.
While the government has already purchased more than 170M of redesigned COVID-19 booster shots for an immunization drive in the fall and winter, O’Connell said that the administration will run out of funds to procure additional vaccines as early as 2023.
She added that with no new funds from congress, the plan to transition products to the commercial market has accelerated over the past six months.
While the government projects adequate supplies of Pfizer’s (NYSE:PFE) oral antiviral Paxlovid until mid-2023, the supplies of AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody therapy Evusheld are expected to run out as soon as early 2023, followed by Merck’s (MRK) antiviral Lagevrio around Q1/Q2 2023.
“Our goal is to transition procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics from a federally managed system to the commercial marketplace in a thoughtful, well-coordinated manner that leaves no one behind,” O’Connell remarked.
COVID-19 antibody therapy Bebtelovimab developed by Eli Lilly’s (LLY) and AbCellera Biologics (ABCL), has already moved to the commercial marketplace.