Pfizer will allow its Covid pill to be manufactured and sold cheaply in poor countries

Pfizer envió más de dos mil millones de vacunas a nivel mundial, pero solo 167 millones a países en desarrollo.


Pfizer shipped more than 2 billion vaccines globally, but only 167 million to developing countries.

Photo: David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

Pfizer announced on Tuesday an agreement to enable its promising Covid-19 treatment to be manufactured and sold cheaply in the 95 poorest countries which are home to more than half of the world’s population.

The deal follows a similar deal brokered by Merck last month, and both negotiations have the potential to vastly expand global production of two simple antiviral pills that could alter the course of the pandemic by preventing serious coronavirus illnesses.

“The fact that we now have two manufacturer licenses anywhere for these two drugs is a huge change and is in stark contrast to the restrictive licenses so far for vaccines,” said James Love, who heads Knowledge Ecology International, a nonprofit organization. for profit that investigates access to medical products.

According to the agreement, Pfizer will grant a royalty-free license for the pill a Medicines Patent Pool, a non-profit organization backed by the United Nations, in an agreement that will allow manufacturers to obtain a sublicense.

They will receive Pfizer’s formula for the drug and will be able to sell it for use in 95 developing countries, primarily in Africa and Asia, once regulators authorize the drug in those locations.

The organization reached a similar agreement with Merck to have its antiviral pill molnupiravir manufactured and sold cheaply in the 105 poorest countries.

However, there are serious concerns about whether this step will do enough to ensure a sufficient supply of the drug for countries that continue to lack Covid vaccines.

Like the Merck deal, the Pfizer deal excludes several poorer countries that have been severely affected by the virus.

Brazil, which has one of the worst pandemic death figures in the world, as well as Cuba, Iraq, Libya and Jamaica, will have to buy pills directly from Pfizer, most likely at higher prices compared to what generic manufacturers will charge. , and those countries run the risk of running out of supplies.

China and Russia, middle-income countries that are home to a total of 1.5 billion people, are excluded from both agreements, as is Brazil.

Still, Pfizer’s approach to its drug is markedly different from the way it has handled its Covid vaccine.

The company has shipped more than two billion doses of vaccines globally, but only shipped about 167 million of them to developing countries that are home to about four billion people.

It has not provided any manufacturer with a license to make its Covid vaccine, so it is on track to generate $ 36 billion in revenue this year.

In a key clinical trial, the Pfizer pill, which will be sold in wealthy countries under the brand name Paxlovid, was found to be highly effective in preventing serious illness when given to high-risk unvaccinated study volunteers shortly after they began to show Covid symptoms.

The pill is urgently needed in places where few people have had a chance to get vaccinated. And because it is a pill that can be taken at home, it will be much easier to distribute than the treatments that are normally administered intravenously.

“This will be really important for low- and middle-income countries, because it is easy to take, just a short five-day course, and potentially relatively inexpensive to produce,” said Charles Gore, CEO of the Medicines Patent Pool.

Read more
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* FDA approved the third dose of Pfizer against COVID-19 in the elderly and at risk
* US to purchase 500 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to donate to other countries

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