Geneva, November 16
US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on Tuesday announced a deal to make its oral antiviral Covid-19 medication available more cheaply in poorer countries, if the promising pill passes trials and regulatory approval.
Pfizer, which also produces a Covid vaccine with German lab BioNTech, said it had signed an agreement to sub-licence production of its Paxlovid pill to generic drug manufacturers, without receiving royalties.
The deal with the global Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) would therefore make the candidate drug available at a lower cost in 95 low- and middle-income countries covering around 53 percent of the world’s population.
It follows a similar deal for US rival Merck & Co last month.
The drug is to be taken with the HIV medicine ritonavir.
Interim data from ongoing trials demonstrated an 89 percent reduction in the risk of Covid-19-related hospitalisation or death compared to a placebo, in non-hospitalised high-risk adults with Covid-19 within three days of symptom onset, said Pfizer.
Similar results were seen within five days of symptom onset, it added.
The Geneva-based MPP is a United Nations-backed international organisation that works to facilitate the development of medicines for low- and middle-income nations.
MPP executive director Charles Gore said: “This license is so important because if authorised or approved, this oral drug is particularly well-suited for low- and middle-income countries and could play a critical role in saving lives.”
The drug “is to be taken together with ritonavir, an HIV medicine we know well, as we have had a license on it for many years, and we will be working with generic companies to ensure there is enough supply for both Covid-19 and HIV.”