Swiss federal government signs contract to procure drugs for prevention of COVID-19

Bern, 10.03.2022 - The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has signed a contract with AstraZeneca Switzerland to procure drugs for the prevention of COVID-19. The product in question is an antibody treatment combining tixagevimab and cilgavimab. It is intended for high-risk people with a weakened immune system who cannot protect themselves from COVID-19 disease by way of vaccination.

Certain risk groups with a weakened immune system do not respond to vaccination against COVID-19 and therefore cannot build sufficient immune protection. This means that they are at a higher risk of suffering a severe course of disease. This applies, for example, to people after an organ or stem cell transplant, patients with chronic illnesses who have to take medication that suppresses the immune system, and people with congenital immunodeficiencies. For this reason the federal government has decided to procure medicines that can be used preventively.

The FOPH has now concluded an agreement with AstraZeneca to acquire an antibody treatment combining tixagevimab and cilgavimab for several thousand people. These two long-acting antibodies are used in combination to prevent COVID-19. The drug provides protection from COVID-19 infection for at least six months. The federal government will cover the costs of this preventive treatment as long as it is not reimbursed by compulsory health insurance. The first drugs will be available to certain high-risk patients from May 2022.

This medicinal product has not yet been authorised and can only be prescribed on an exceptional basis. COVID-19 Ordinance 3 provides for exceptions to the usual authorisation process if, according to the available data, the medicinal products in question make it possible to prevent and control COVID-19. Application for approval was submitted to Swissmedic at the beginning of February.

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