Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. has endorsed a settlement with a U.N.-backed group to recognise other companies to build its innovative VOID-19 pill, a move that could get the medication accessible to more than half of the world’s population.
In a declaration published on Tuesday, Pfizer said it would permit the antiviral pill to the Geneva-based Medicines Patent Pool, allowing generic drug companies to build the tablet for treatment in 95 countries, making up about 53% of the world’s population.
The contract dismisses some big countries that have experienced destructive COVID-19 outbreaks. However, health officials said the agreement was approved even before Pfizer’s pill was approved anywhere to help the pandemic end faster.
“It’s quite significant that we will be able to provide access to a drug that appears to be effective and has just been developed to more than 4 billion people,” Esteban Burrone, head of policy at the Medicines Patent Pool, said. He predicted that other drugmakers would begin manufacturing the pill within months but recognised the contract wouldn’t satisfy everyone.
“We try to strike a very delicate balance between the interests of the (company), the sustainability required by generic producers, and most importantly, the public health needs in lower and middle-income countries,” Burrone said. Under the courses of the contract, Pfizer will not accept royalties on deals in low-income nations and will forgo royalties on sales in all countries covered by the contract. At the same time, COVID-19 remains a public health emergency.
Earlier this month, Pfizer said its pill curtailed the hazard of hospitalisation and mortality by almost 90% in people with mild to moderate COVID-19 viruses. Independent specialists suggested pausing the company’s study based on its likely results.
Pfizer said it would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other controls to approve the pill as soon as possible since the COVID-19 pandemic vented last year, researchers globally have rushed to produce a medicine to treat COVID-19 that can be taken at home immediately to relieve symptoms, speed improvement and keep somebody out of the hospital.
At the moment, most COVID-19 medications must be given intravenously or by injection.
Britain approved Merck’s COVID-19 pill earlier this month, and it is pending approval elsewhere. In a related deal with the Medicines Patent Pool declared in October, Merck allowed other drugmakers to make its COVID-19 pill, molnupiravir, available in 105 poorer countries.
Doctors Without Borders announced it was “disheartened” that the Pfizer settlement does not make the medicine available to the entire world. The agreement announced on Tuesday also prohibits countries including China, Argentina and Thailand.
“The world knows by now that access to COVID-19 medical tools needs to be guaranteed for everyone, everywhere, if we really want to control this pandemic,” said Yuanqiong Hu, a senior legal policy adviser at Doctors Without Borders. The choices by Pfizer and Merck to distribute their COVID-19 drug patents stands in abrupt opposition to the exclusion of Pfizer and other vaccine-makers to release their vaccine recipes for broader production.