European CommissionThe European Commission progresses cooperation for the development and availability of key therapeutics for pandemic preparedness
On November 22-23, 2022, the Directorate-General for Research and Development (RTD) and the Health Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) organised a multidisciplinary workshop on the development and availability of broad-spectrum antivirals for better pandemic preparedness. The workshop brought together participants from 25 countries across the globe with relevant research, regulatory, public health, crisis emergency and response as well as health economy expertise.
The workshop agenda covered all aspects of the drug development cycle, addressing pre-clinical and clinical research aspects, as well as the of development and production landscape to ensure access and availability, in Europe and globally. Discussions highlighted the following:
- Broad-spectrum anti-viral therapeutics are increasingly recognised as one of the tools to be pursued more actively in the context of pandemic preparedness. While vaccines are important to prevent infection or severe disease, therapeutics are equally important to save the lives of infected persons and might possibly prevent infection.
- Innovation is needed to better understand the mechanisms of drug resistance, and novel ways to overcome resistance.
- Moving forward the development, availability and access to broad-spectrum antivirals requires a truly global approach, integrating local innovation and local development. Sustainable partnerships, including research, regulatory and funding partnerships, are key to facilitate such collaborations.
- Sustainable production of broad-spectrum antivirals could be supported by joint procurement and flexible manufacturing capacities for pandemic preparedness, considering risk and cost sharing models. Equitable access to authorised medicines should be a priority.
Overall, the workshop created a welcome momentum for broad-spectrum antiviral therapeutics to become a reliable tool for pandemic preparedness and response. GloPID-R Chair Charu Kaushic presented on ‘Research funding coordination for pandemic preparedness and response’.
The European Commission will continue to support research for the development of tools such as broad-spectrum antivirals and others to prevent and combat epidemics and pandemics. Funding opportunities are available under Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023-2024 as well as under the EU4Health Work Programme 2023.