Pfizer agrees to let other companies make its COVID-19 pill – Community News
Covid-19

Pfizer agrees to let other companies make its COVID-19 pill

LONDON (AP) – Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. has signed a deal with a UN-backed group to allow other manufacturers to make their experimental COVID-19 pill, a move that could make the treatment available to more than half of the world’s population.

In a statement released Tuesday, Pfizer said it would license the antiviral pill to the Medicines Patent Pool, which would allow generic drug manufacturers to manufacture the pill for use in 95 countries, accounting for about 53% of the world’s population. .

The deal excludes some major countries that have suffered from devastating coronavirus outbreaks. For example, a Brazilian drug company could be licensed to make the pill for export to other countries, but the drug could not be made generic for use in Brazil.

Still, health officials said the fact that the deal closed even before Pfizer’s pill was approved anywhere could help end the pandemic more quickly.

“It’s very important that we can give more than 4 billion people access to a drug that appears to be effective and has just been developed,” said Esteban Burrone, chief of policy at the Medicines Patent Pool.

He estimated that other drug makers could begin production of the pill within months, but acknowledged the agreement wouldn’t be to everyone’s liking.

“We’re trying to strike a very delicate balance between the (company’s) interests, the sustainability required by generic manufacturers and, most importantly, the public health needs of low- and middle-income countries,” Burrone said.

Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer will not receive royalties on sales in low-income countries and will waive royalties on sales in all countries covered by the agreement, while COVID-19 remains a public health emergency.

Earlier this month, Pfizer said it’s his pill reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by nearly 90% in people with mild to moderate coronavirus infections. Independent experts advised stopping the company’s study based on the promising results.

Pfizer said it would ask the US Food and Drug Administration and other regulators to approve the pill as soon as possible.

Since the pandemic broke out last year, researchers around the world have raced to develop a pill to treat COVID-19 that can be easily taken at home to relieve symptoms, speed recovery and get people out of the hospital. to hold. Currently, most COVID-19 treatments must be administered intravenously or by injection.

Britain clears Merck’s COVID-19 pill earlier this month, and it’s pending approval elsewhere. In a similar deal with the Medicines Patent Pool announced in October, Merck agreed to make other drug manufacturers their COVID-19 pill, molnupiravir, available in 105 poorer countries.

Doctors Without Borders said it was “discouraged” that the Pfizer deal won’t make the drug available worldwide, noting that the deal announced Tuesday also excludes countries like China, Argentina and Thailand.

“The world knows by now that access to medical devices for COVID-19 must be guaranteed for everyone, everywhere, if we are to really get this pandemic under control,” said Yuanqiong Hu, senior legal policy advisor at MSF.

Pfizer and Merck’s decisions to share their COVID-19 drug patents stand in stark contrast to Pfizer’s and other vaccine makers’ refusal to release their vaccine recipes for wider production. a hub founded by the World Health Organization in South Africa to share recipes and technologies for messenger RNA vaccines, no pharmaceutical company has been enticed to join.

Less than 1% of Pfizer’s COVID-19 injections went to poorer countries.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic