Pfizer Announces Deal To Provide COVID Pill To Low-Income Countries

In an agreement announced on Tuesday, Pfizer will permit its COVID-19 pill treatment to be manufactured and sold in countries that might not be able to otherwise afford the treatment.

The deal includes Pfizer working with Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), “a United Nations-backed public health organization working to increase access to life-saving medicines for low- and middle-income countries.”

Through the agreement, MPP will be able to “facilitate additional production and distribution of the investigational antiviral, pending regulatory authorization or approval, by granting sub-licenses to qualified generic medicine manufacturers, with the goal of facilitating greater access to the global population.”

As reported by The New York Times, the group “reached a similar deal with Merck for its Covid antiviral pill, molnupiravir, to be made and sold inexpensively in 105 poorer countries.”

In a statement about the arrangement, Pfizer said it will allow other companies to provide its COVID pill, along with ritonavir, with which it is administered, to 95 countries, which would include up to around 53% of the population of the world. 

The company noted that “[t]his includes all low- and lower-middle-income countries and some upper-middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as countries that have transitioned from lower-middle to upper-middle-income status in the past five years,” adding that it “will not receive royalties on sales in low-income countries and will further waive royalties on sales in all countries covered by the agreement while COVID-19 remains classified as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization.”

“Pfizer remains committed to bringing forth scientific breakthroughs to help end this pandemic for all people. We believe oral antiviral treatments can play a vital role in reducing the severity of COVID-19 infections, decreasing the strain on our healthcare systems and saving lives,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer. “We must work to ensure that all people – regardless of where they live or their circumstances – have access to these breakthroughs, and we are pleased to be able to work with MPP to further our commitment to equity.”

“This license is so important because, if authorized or approved, this oral drug is particularly well-suited for low- and middle-income countries and could play a critical role in saving lives, contributing to global efforts to fight the current pandemic,” said Charles Gore, Executive Director of MPP. “[The COVID pill] is to be taken together with ritonavir, an HIV medicine we know well, as we have had

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