Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Patricia J. Zettler (Ohio State University), Micah L. Berman (Ohio State University), Efthimios Parasidis (Ohio State University), Drug and Vaccine Development and Access, Assessing Legal Responses to COVID-19. Boston: Public Health Law Watch (2020):
This Chapter explains how drugs and vaccines for COVID-19 can reach the market in the United States. As is always true, drug and vaccine manufacturers may seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of their products via traditional approval mechanisms and drug manufacturers may offer pre-approval access under the expanded access or right to try pathways. In a public health emergency like COVID-19, an additional mechanism is also available: the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) pathway. This Chapter (1) assesses how FDA has used its EUA authorities for COVID-19 drugs thus far, (2) considers how FDA has balanced the need for robust evidence of safety and effectiveness for COVID-19 pharmaceuticals against the urgent need to speed patients’ access amid the clinical and political realities of the pandemic, and (3) highlights considerations specific to vaccines should FDA be faced with a request to issue an EUA for a COVID-19 vaccine. The Chapter concludes with recommendations for policymakers and regulators at the federal and state levels. The recommendations aim to improve public understanding of the regulatory process for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, protect scientific decision making from undue political pressure, and ensure that manufacturers develop robust evidence of safety and effectiveness—and ultimately safe and effective COVID-19 countermeasures.