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16th Nov 2021

Pfizer allows Covid pill to be made and sold cheaply in poorer countries

Kieran Galpin


Pfizer will price its drug on a country by country basis

On Tuesday, everyone’s favourite vaccine manufacturer Pfizer said that it would allow generic companies to supply its Covid-19 pill to low and middle-income countries.

Through a licensing agreement with the international health group Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), sub-licences will be granted to generic drug manufacturers to produce their own versions of the pill, reports CNBC.

Pfizer has claimed that its PF-07321332 pill (catchy) will reduce hospitalisations and death for adults by 89 per cent. The drug will be manufactured under the brand name Paxlovid and used in conjunction with the HIV drug Ritonavir.

“We are extremely pleased to have another weapon in our armoury to protect people from the ravages of COVID-19,” Charles Gore, Executive Director of the Medicines Patent Pool, said.

Gore continued by saying he hoped the generic version of Pfizer’s drug would be available in the next few months.

There are currently 95 countries in the licensing agreement, which covers 53 per cent of the world population, including many lower and lower-middle-income countries. The agreement also includes some upper-middle-income countries in Sub-saharan African, Pfizer and MPP have said.

Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said: “We believe oral antiviral treatments can play a vital role in reducing the severity of COVID-19 infections… We must work to ensure that all people – regardless of where they live or their circumstances – have access to these breakthroughs.”

Pfizer has also stated that they will waive royalties in some low-income countries and also countries covered by the agreement as long as Covid is still classified as a public health emergency by WHO.

But why license the drug at all?

Pfizer’s original version will be in extremely high demand given that they are leading the charge against the pandemic. The company have stated that they expect to make 180,000 treatment courses by the new year and at least 50 million by the conclusion of 2022.

Pfizer has also confirmed that pricing will be based on a country’s average income level, which prices the drug at $700 a course for the US.

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