Covid-19: Pfizer signs agreement to facilitate global access to its pill

The American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has signed a voluntary license agreement which should allow its pill against Covid-19 to be distributed – when it is authorized – beyond rich countries. The announcement was made jointly Tuesday, November 16, by Pfizer and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) “Medicines Patent Pool”, created by Unitaid, the international organization for the purchase of medicines. Generic drug manufacturers “Who are sublicensed will be able to supply the new drug in combination with ritonavir [un médicament utilisé contre le virus du sida] to 95 countries, covering up to about 53% of the world’s population ”, said a spokesperson for Unitaid, Hervé Verhoosen, during a briefing in Geneva.

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The agreement includes all “lower middle income” and “lower middle income” countries as designated by the World Bank, but also “upper middle income” countries in sub-Saharan Africa and those that have achieved this status in the past. last five years, said Hervé Verhoosen. Pfizer will not receive royalties on sales in low-income countries, and will waive royalties in all countries covered by the agreement as long as Covid-19 remains classified as a “public health emergency of international concern” by the Organization World Health Organization (WHO).

Promising results

In early November, Pfizer, which markets with German BioNTech one of the most effective vaccines against Covid, revealed that, in adults at high risk of developing a severe form of the disease, its oral antiviral PF-07321332 was 89% effective in preventing the risk of hospitalization or death, according to interim results from clinical trials.

With this agreement, Pfizer is following in the footsteps of its competitor Merck, which has entered into a similar pact with the MPP for its own oral anti-Covid, Molnupiravir. The latter also displays a high efficiency rate. These promising results have yet to be confirmed, said Esteban Burrone, head of policy development at the MPP, in an interview with Agence France-Presse. But, if so, the availability “Will be a matter of months”, he stressed.

Pfizer and other anti-Covid vaccine makers are accused of prioritizing profits by selling to countries that can afford it, and thus contributing to vaccine inequality between rich and poor countries. For now, the price of the new treatment is not known, Burrone said, but according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) it will be around $ 700 in rich countries, as for Molnupiravir, and its price. will be suitable for others.

These two antivirals work by decreasing the ability of a virus to replicate, thereby slowing down the disease. Like Molnupiravir, Pfizer’s treatment, which will be marketed as Paxlovid, should be given within three to five days of the onset of symptoms. The UK became the first country to authorize Molnupiravir on November 4.

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These treatments are easier to manufacture than vaccines, are not subject to the cold chain and can be taken by the patient at home, although having to use them quickly means that tests are available and that the diagnosis is correct. confirmed by a doctor. For Mr. Burrone, one of the crucial aspects is that these treatments can help relieve health structures by preventing hospitalizations: “It is a game-changer. “

MSF, for its part, said to itself ” discouraged “ through this partial agreement which excludes Argentina, Brazil, as well as China, Malaysia and Thailand, which have significant generic manufacturing capacities.

The World with AFP

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Covid-19: Pfizer signs agreement to facilitate global access to its pill