EU Launches It’s Threatened Legal Action Against AstraZeneca Over Vaccine Deliveries.
THE EUROPEAN UNION has launched legal action it has been threatening for weeks against pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca over delivery shortfalls of its coronavirus vaccine, the European Commission announced today, Monday, April, 26. Spain, in particular, was left in difficulty trying to put in action it’s vaccine strategy and lost ground due to low stocks of the drug.
“The commission has started last Friday a legal action against the company AstraZeneca on the basis of breaches of the advanced purchase agreement,” EU spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker said, adding the action was launched on behalf of the 27 member states.
European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides said on Twitter: “Our priority is to ensure Covid-19 vaccine deliveries take place to protect the health of [the European Union].”
“Every vaccine dose counts. Every vaccine dose saves lives,” she said.
Under a disputed contract between AstraZeneca and the European Union, the Anglo-Swedish pharma firm AstraZeneca had initially been expected to deliver over 100 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, to EU countries in the first three months of the year.
However, citing production issues, the company said, it only delivered 29.4 million doses.
AstraZeneca defended the shortfall, saying that its contract with the European Union said it would do its “best-effort” to deliver supplies on time. The EU argued that the contract also states that AstraZeneca’s British factories should be used to supply vaccines to the EU and that the contract states that no other contract (ie, the UK-AZ contract) should interfere with AstraZeneca’s commitments to supply the EU with its vaccines.
There has been no such shortfall in AstraZeneca vaccine deliveries to the UK, which had included a clause with the millions in funding it supplied to develop the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine. The European Commission and AstraZeneca had been engaged in a dispute mechanism for a few weeks, which is a process contained in the contract.
In response, the company said today that it regrets the Commission’s decision to launch legal action and said it believes the litigation is “without merit”.
“AstraZeneca has fully complied with the Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission and will strongly defend itself in court. We believe any litigation is without merit and we welcome this opportunity to resolve this dispute as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement.