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Government Plan to Enter EU Joint Procurement to Purchase Therapeutic Treatments for COVID-19

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has confirmed that Ireland is pursuing the purchase of COVID-19 therapeutic treatments, following discussions at the Cabinet meeting.

Ireland will seek to purchase treatments manufactured by Pfizer, Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK), and Merck (MSD).

The EU Commission is currently progressing a Joint Procurement Agreement (JPA) in relation to antivirals, which includes MSD’s Lagevrio and Pfizer’s Paxlovid, and Ireland has formally indicated its intention to participate in this arrangement. Ireland is already a participant in an EU JPA for the purchase of the GSK monoclonal antibody product Xevudy.

The HSE, in consultation with the Department of Health, is also exploring opportunities to procure antivirals through bilateral agreements at national level, in advance of the completion of the relevant EU JPA.

Minister Donnelly said, “COVID-19 incidence is at unprecedented levels in our communities. Our health service is continuing to deal with increasing levels of people requiring care in hospital as a result of COVID-19 infection. This virus continues to pose a significant risk to the functioning of our economy and wider society.”

The Minister added, “in order to protect essential services and the health of those most vulnerable to infection with COVID-19, it is imperative that we are prepared to use all of the tools available. That is why, at my request, my department and the HSE are working to progress EU joint procurement for these treatments, as well as bilateral channels. The government has agreed that funding necessary to support the purchase of these treatments will be provided.”

A National Therapeutics Advisory Group has been established by the HSE to evaluate, advise, and provide recommendations on all therapeutics with potential for use in the treatment of COVID-19 in Ireland. This encompasses a range of antivirals and monoclonal antibodies currently awaiting, or having recently received, EMA approval.

In parallel, a Therapeutics Operational Group, to be informed by the recommendations of the Therapeutics Advisory Group, has been established to develop the arrangements for provision of these treatments to patients who may benefit from their use.

Minister Donnelly concluded, “I would like to thank the teams across the Department of Health and the HSE who are working to operationalise the use of these treatments as soon as they become available. Today’s decision is another positive step in Ireland’s ongoing response to COVID-19.”

“Ireland now has the best booster rollout campaign in the European Union, and I would like to thank all of those who have come forward for their booster dose. Our booster programme, our continued adherence to the public health advice and today’s update on therapeutic treatments that will further protect our most-at-risk loved ones from the worst impact of COVID-19 infection.”


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