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OECD calls on regulators to cooperate on Covid-19

Call for international effort to ‘remove hurdles’ blocking delivery of medicines to fight pandemic

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has called for better international coordination “to remove regulatory hurdles for vaccines and treatments” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

OECD secretary general Angel Gurría laid out a four-point plan on 21 March for how governments should collaborate to deal with the pandemic, likening the effort required to a global version of the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after the Second World War. As one element of this plan, Gurría said regulatory agencies like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) need to prioritise working together.

“Impressive co-ordination in the scientific effort is ongoing but it needs to be complemented by measures to ensure that vaccines and treatments, after being developed and produced, get to people as quickly as possible,” said Gurría.

The call follows a global meeting of regulatory agencies to discuss the development of vaccines against the coronavirus on 18 March. The meeting was co-chaired by the EMA and FDA, with representatives from more than 20 regulatory authorities. The EMA did not immediately respond to requests for further information, but details are expected in the coming days.

Regulatory agencies are also acting individually to accelerate efforts to respond to the crisis. On 21 March, the FDA approved a fast-tracked test for diagnosing infection with coronavirus within healthcare facilities, rather than having to send samples to external labs.

With the US widely regarded as lagging behind other countries in testing for coronavirus, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement that the agency had been “working nonstop to expedite the review and authorisation of novel diagnostics”.