The Corner


Why Doesn’t the U.S. Have a Version of Britain’s Fast Drug Track?

The head of a major pharmaceutical company says Britain’s fast approval of a COVID vaccine may have gotten a big push from its withdrawal from the European Union as part of Brexit.

Hugo Fry, the British managing director of Sanofi, a Paris-based multi-national and the world’s fifth-biggest drug maker, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that decoupling from the EU’s regulatory and purchasing bureaucracy had enabled the “nimble buying” of hundreds of millions of doses and a rapid green light for the Pfizer/BioNTech virus. “The fact that the UK was able to do it in a single deal meant that it got its deal done before France and before Germany. It’s more efficient,” Fry said.

Meanwhile, a German health minister said EU countries had decided not to pursue emergency approval in order to maintain the solidarity of the EU system bloc.

The fast British approval will have consequences. According to the Telegraph’s international business editor, Ambrose Evans-Prichard:

The EU lacks anything like the UK’s Regulation 174 enabling fast-track action to fight pandemics, or chemical and nuclear attacks. Bureaucracy and legalistic inertia will give the virus one last chance to cause maximum devastation on the Continent, and this slippage of several weeks will have serious consequences for a clutch of eurozone economies already in trouble.


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