Pfizer to Allow Other Companies to Make COVID-19 Pill and Distribute to Poorer Nations

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The drug company signed a deal with a U.N.-backed group Tuesday to allow other manufacturers to make the pill.

Pfizer has agreed to allow other companies to make their landmark pill to fight COVID-19 and distribute it to poorer nations, the Associated Press reported.

The drug company signed a deal with a U.N.-backed group Tuesday to allow other manufacturers to make the pill. The move could make the treatment available to more than half of the world’s population, the AP reported.

"Pfizer 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 said in the statement.

Pfizer said it has allowed its license to the Geneva-based Medicines Patent Pool, which will let generic drug companies produce the antiviral pill in 95 countries, NBC News reported.

“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 in a statement to the AP.

Some large countries still cannot use the drug, despite obtaining a license for it. 

“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.

The pill was announced earlier this month by Pfizer after they said results from its trial showed it was effective in 89% of high-risk cases, CNN reported.

The drug, Paxlovid, is intended to be used after COVID-19 symptoms develop in people that are considered high-risk, BBC reported.

"These data suggest that our oral antiviral candidate, if approved or authorized by regulatory authorities, has the potential to save patients' lives, reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections, and eliminate up to nine out of ten hospitalizations," Pfizer CEO and chairman Albert Bourla said in a statement obtained by NPR.

Pfizer said that its antiviral pill was most effective if taken within the first three days of symptoms, NBC News reported.

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