- Pfizer to grant a licence to Geneva-based Medicines Patent Pool.
- Independent experts recommended halting the company’s study based on its promising results.
- Fewer than 1% of Pfizer’s COVID-19 shots have gone to poorer countries.
Pfizer Inc. has reached an agreement with a United Nations-backed initiative to allow other companies to make its experimental COVID-19 pill, potentially bringing the treatment to more than half of the world’s population as reported by AP News.
Pfizer said in a statement released Tuesday that it would grant a licence for the antiviral pill to the Geneva-based Medicines Patent Pool, allowing generic medicine companies to create the pill for use in 95 countries, accounting for nearly 53% of the global population.
Some significant countries that have experienced disastrous coronavirus outbreaks are excluded from the agreement.
While a Brazilian pharmaceutical company may obtain a licence to manufacture the pill for export, the medicine could not be produced generically for use in Brazil.
Nonetheless, health experts believe that the agreement was reached before Pfizer’s pill was approved anywhere, which could help to speed up the end of the pandemic.
“We attempt to strike a very delicate balance between the (company’s) interests, the sustainability requirements of generic producers, and, most significantly, the public health needs of low- and middle-income nations,” Burrone explained.
Public health emergency
Pfizer will not collect 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, according to the provisions of the deal.
Pfizer announced earlier this month that its pill reduced the risk of hospitalisation and death in persons with mild to moderate coronavirus infections by nearly 90%.
Based on the study’s positive results, independent experts recommended that it be halted.
Pfizer petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration to approve the medication on Tuesday.
Most COVID-19 therapies are currently administered intravenously or by injection.
Merck agreed to allow other drugmakers to make its COVID-19 medicine, molnupiravir, available in 105 poorer nations in a similar deal with the Medicines Patent Pool announced in October.
“By now, everyone realises that if we truly want to contain this pandemic, access to COVID-19 medical tools must be assured for everyone, everywhere,” said Yuanqiong Hu, a senior legal policy consultant at Doctors Without Borders.
Pfizer and Merck’s agreements to reveal their COVID-19 medication patents contrast sharply with Pfizer and other vaccine manufacturers’ refusal to share their vaccine formulations for wider production.
The World Health Organization set up a centre in South Africa to share messenger RNA vaccine formulas and technologies, but no pharmaceutical company has joined.
Fewer than 1% of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed to developing nations.
“This action also raises an essential question: If Pfizer can share data and intellectual property on a drug, why hasn’t it done so for their COVID vaccine?”
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Source: AP News