Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

EU to send letter to AstraZeneca in possible first step of legal action

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Vials of Oxford/AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at a vaccination centre in Bierset, Belgium March 17, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

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BRUSSELS, March 18 (Reuters) - The European Commission will send a letter to AstraZeneca (AZN.L) as part of efforts to resolve a dispute with the Anglo-Swedish company over its supplies of COVID-19 vaccines to the bloc, a spokesman for the EU executive said on Thursday.

The company is required under its contract with the EU to deliver 300 million doses by the end of June, but it said last week it aimed to ship only 100 million, due to production problems and export restrictions read more .

"We plan to send a letter to AstraZeneca that will allow us to begin a dialogue with the company as part of a process to resolve the dispute," the spokesman told a news conference.

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He said the letter was being prepared and would be discussed with EU governments before it was sent.

A second spokesman said the letter was in line with article 18.5 of the EU contract with AstraZeneca.

Under that article, in case of a dispute, the two parties agreed to first try to solve the conflict through informal discussions triggered by a letter.

The same article also says that Brussels courts would be responsible for settling any dispute not resolved with informal talks.

Asked about whether the letter could be the beginning of a possible legal case against AstraZeneca, the Commission's chief spokesman said: "Today we are taking a specific step. We will see where that leads us."

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Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio

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