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Legal Issues in COVID-19 Vaccine Development

CRS report via LC – Legal Issues in COVID-19 Vaccine Development, June 8, 2020: “Private companies, universities, and governmental entities are working to develop a vaccine for corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Vaccines are biological products regulated under the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). New vaccines must generally be licensed by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) before they can be marketed and used in the United States. To obtain licensure, the vaccine must be tested in human subjects through clinical trials. The clinical trials inform the dosing schedule and labeling that will be used for the approved vaccine. Sponsors use the data from clinical trials, along with other information, to prepare a biologics license application (BLA) to submit to FDA. FDA approves the BLA if it determines that the vaccine is safe, potent, and pure. Because the development and review process can be lengthy, the FD&C Act provides several avenues to accelerate this process for pharmaceutical products intended to treat or prevent serious diseases or conditions. FDA may grant fast track product and breakthrough-therapy designation at the sponsor’s request for products that are intended to fill an unmet need or improve on existing therapies. Both designations entitle the sponsor to increased communication with FDA regarding the clinical trial design and data collected, as well as rolling review of the BLA. Products may also qualify for accelerated approval based on intermediate or surrogate endpoints likely to predict a clinical benefit. In addition, FDA may designate products for priority review…”

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