“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to secure efficient treatments or vaccine against the coronavirus,” EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a statement on Friday.
Remdesivir is the only anti-coronavirus medication to be given the green light in the EU. The authorisation from the EU’s executive arm comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) last week recommended the drug be approved for treating patients who require supplemental oxygen.
The approval also comes less than a day after the Commission said it had begun negotiations with remdesivir manufacturer Gilead Sciences to secure doses for EU member states, after the US secured 500,000 treatment courses of the drug.
“Commissioner (Stella) Kyriakides has been in multiple discussions with the manufacturer, Gilead, including on their production capacity,” a spokesperson said on Wednesday.
“The Commission is also currently in negotiations with Gilead to reserve doses of remdesivir for EU member states.”
The US sparked outrage on Wednesday when it bought up 500,000 treatment courses, amounting to 100 per cent of Gilead’s July production and 90 per cent for August and September.
“They’ve got access to most of the drug supply [of remdesivir], so there’s nothing for Europe,” said Dr Andrew Hill, a senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University.
Remedesivir was approved by the UK at the end of May, with health officials outlining that it would only be used to treat the sickest patients. It only one of two drugs approved in Britain to treat Covid-19, the other being a cheap steroid called dexamethasone.
The drug has been shown to reduced recovery times for patient who had suffered from severe respiratory problems.
Remdesivir is an experimental drug originally created to treat Hepatitis C but proved ineffective. It was also used in the battle against Ebola but proved ineffective in treating that drug too.
However, it has found to be more successful in treating respiratory illnesses such as Sars, Mers and the new coronavirus.
According to health officials in the US, the cost of remdesivir is around $3,200 (£2,500) per treatment of six doses,.
But some critics have argued that the drug is not good value for money. Although it shortens recovery time in some Covid-19 patients, it does not significantly improve survival chances.
Peter Maybarduk, a lawyer at the consumer group Public Citizen, called the pricing of the drug “an outrage”.
“Remdesivir should be in the public domain” because the drug received at least $70m in public funding towards its development, he added.
“The price puts to rest any notion that drug companies will ‘do the right thing’ because it is a pandemic,” Dr Peter Bach, a health policy expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York said.