June 29 (Reuters) - The European Commission on Tuesday picked four antibody treatments and a repurposed rheumatoid arthritis drug by Eli Lilly for an initial portfolio of preferred drugs to treat COVID-19.
The selection of drugs is part of the EU Strategy on COVID-19 Therapeutics, launched in May, to speed up EU approval and for a joint procurement plan on behalf of member states, complementing more advanced efforts on vaccines.
The commission's pick of most promising treatments comprises Eli Lilly and Incyte's Olumiant for hospitalized COVID-19 patients on oxygen, as well as new antibody drugs for early-stage disease developed by Regeneron, Eli Lilly , Celltrion and an alliance of GlaxoSmithKline and partner Vir.
The Commission reiterated on Tuesday it would draw up a portfolio of at least 10 potential COVID-19 therapeutics.
The European Medicines Agency has recommended the antibody treatments by GSK, Celltrion, Eli Lilly and Regeneron for use in early-stage patients who are at risk of progressing to severe COVID-19 to support any use by individual member states. An EU-wide marketing authorisation has not yet been granted.
To increase access to drugs, the EU has said it wants to invest more to boost production. As part of that plan, it aims to facilitate partnerships among pharmaceutical companies to quickly address possible bottlenecks in the supply chain.
A first "industry matchmaking event" on therapeutics will be held on July 12-13, the Commission said on Tuesday.
The only COVID-19 drug so far approved across the EU is Gilead's remdesivir, which the EU bought with a joint procurement just before the World Health Organization said it was not effective on severely ill COVID-19 patients. . (Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Edmund Blair)