Image Source: Kena Betancur/Agence France-Presse
Pfizer has announced that it will be selling its patented medicines at affordable, not-for-profit prices to the world’s poorest countries.
The drugmaker makes its most vital products available to countries in need, including poor and high-risk populated areas. Paxlovid will be given out for COVID-19 treatment, while Ibrance can help with breast cancer symptoms. These, along with other drugs, will be shipped to 45 select countries.
Pfizer also included 23 other patented medicines to the list — vaccines for infectious diseases, cancer drugs, and treatments for rare and inflammatory diseases. The pharmaceutical company said it would ship drugs like the pneumonia vaccine Prevnar 13, cancer treatments Xalkori and Inlyta, and rheumatoid arthritis medicine Xeljanz. The list also includes the Comirnaty, a COVID-19 vaccine developed with BioNTech.
Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said, “But clearly, the antiviral (Paxlovid) is going to be a very big deal for them – if they need it, they can get it immediately.” Bourla said that the company had done an extensive research to figure out which medicines will be most helpful for those who receive them once they’re delivered to their destination countries.
The initiative, which Pfizer calls “An Accord for a Healthier World,” focuses on 27 low-income countries and 18 lower-income countries — mostly from the African and Southeast Asian regions.
During the World Economic Forum in Davos, five countries — Ghana, Malawi, Senegal, Uganda, and Rwanda — have already said they will join the accord.
The accord will let the drugmaker and the participating countries share “the burden of costs and tasks in producing and delivering supplies that will save millions of lives,” said Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi.
“Instead of washing our hands and saying, ‘I gave you the product, do whatever you want with them,’ we’re saying, ‘We’ll give you the products, and we will sit with you to see how we can help organize a system that can utilize them,'” Bourla explained.
During the pandemic, Pfizer was criticized by many critics in relation to the pace at which they were rolling out its COVID-19 vaccine supplies. Many poor countries had waited for months before they were delivered the doses – much later than the doses that arrived in wealthier nations.
Bourla said that the accord aims to narrow the gap and explain to countries why the rollout happened as it did – citing particularly the lack of health infrastructures in many countries that were essential in the delivery and distribution of the vaccines.
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