Pfizer agrees to allow other companies to produce its COVID-19 pills


The drug maker Pfizer has signed an agreement with a United Nations-backed organization to allow other manufacturers to produce its experimental COVID-19 pills, a move that may give more than half of the world’s population access to this treatment.

The move was made after Merck made a similar decision, which also developed a pill to treat people infected with COVID-19.

In a statement on Tuesday, Pfizer stated that it will license its antiviral pills to a drug patent pool located in Geneva, which will allow generic drug companies to produce therapeutic pills for use in 95 countries, accounting for approximately 53 of the world’s population. %. .

The agreement does not include some major countries that have suffered from the devastating COVID-19 outbreak. For example, although a Brazilian pharmaceutical company can obtain a license to produce the pill for export to other countries, the drug cannot be produced in Brazil as a generic drug.

Nonetheless, health officials said that the deal was concluded even before Pfizer’s pills were authorized anywhere, which may help to end the pandemic more quickly.

“It is very important that we will be able to provide more than 4 billion people with drugs that seem to be effective and have just been developed,” said Esteban Burrone, the policy director of the drug patent pool.

He predicts that other drugmakers will be able to start producing the pill within a few months, but acknowledged that the agreement will not satisfy everyone.

“We are trying to strike a very delicate balance between the interests of all parties. [company], The sustainability required by generic drug manufacturers, and most importantly the public health needs of low- and middle-income countries,” Burrone said.

According to the terms of the agreement, Pfizer will not receive royalties for sales in low-income countries, and will waive sales royalties in all countries/regions covered by the agreement, and COVID-19 is still a public health emergency.

Earlier this month, Pfizer said its pills reduced the risk of hospitalization and death for patients with mild to moderate coronavirus infections by nearly 90%. The independent expert recommends that the company stop the study as soon as possible based on its promising results.

Pfizer said it will request the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies to approve the pill as soon as possible.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic last year, researchers around the world have been racing to develop a pill for COVID-19 that can be taken at home to relieve symptoms, accelerate recovery, and keep people away from the hospital. Currently, most COVID-19 treatments must be administered intravenously or by injection.

The UK approved Merck’s COVID-19 pill earlier this month and is currently awaiting approval elsewhere. In a similar deal with the drug patent pool announced in October, Merck agreed to let other drugmakers produce its COVID-19 pill, monupivir, in 105 poorer countries.

Médecins Sans Frontières said it was “frustrating” that Pfizer’s deal did not provide the drug to the world, noting that the agreement announced on Tuesday also excluded countries such as China, Argentina and Thailand.

Hu Yuanqiong, senior legal policy adviser for Doctors Without Borders, said: “Now the whole world knows that if we really want to control this epidemic, we need to ensure that everyone and everywhere have access to COVID-19 medical tools.”

Pfizer and Merck’s decision to share their COVID-19 drug patents is in stark contrast to Pfizer and other vaccine manufacturers’ refusal to release their COVID-19 vaccine formulations for wider production. A center set up by the World Health Organization in South Africa to share messenger RNA vaccine formulas and technologies did not attract any pharmaceutical company to join.

Less than 1% of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine goes to poorer countries.



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