COVID-19: ACCC authorises medtech and blood plasma trial

Latest News

The ACCC has issued an authorisation allowing the medical technology sector to work together to coordinate the supply and potential manufacture in Australia of ventilators, testing kits, personal protective equipment and other medical equipment needed to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

This authorisation follows the regulator's move to allow supermarkets to work together on supply chain issues.

“Our decision will help companies urgently address potential shortages or other constraints on the supply of crucial medical equipment,” said ACCC Chair Rod Sims after announcing the authorisation to the Medical Technology Association of Australia.

“Medical technology companies will now be able to roll out a coordinated plan for supplies of medical equipment nation-wide, which is likely to be crucial in assisting Australia’s response to COVID-19,” added Mr Sims.

A new clinical trial is being launched in the US, based on the use of the blood plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19.

The trial will take place in New York, which is emerging as the latest global epicentre of the virus, with the plasma containing antibodies against COVID-19 administered to critically ill patients. There are over 25,000 confirmed cases in New York.

The state's governor Andrew Cuomo told Forbes the technique “has shown promising preliminary results in stimulating the immune system against the disease.” 

Takeda is also working on a similar treatment based on the understanding the antibodies in the blood of recovered patients could boost the immune response of other COVID-19 patients.

Other symptomatic treatments are being trialled against COVID-19, including malaria and lupus treatment hydroxychloroquine, with manufacturers already increasing production in anticipation of the need to supply millions of doses. At the stage, any evidence of a benefit is anecdotal, with trials underway.

Trials of Gilead's intravenous therapy remdesivir are also underway in China and the US.