Image Source: Kena Betancur/Agence France-Presse
Pfizer will sell its patented medicines at affordable, not-for-profit prices to the world’s poorest countries, it said on Wednesday.
Among the products that the drugmaker included in the offers are the COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid and breast cancer drug Ibrance. The products will be made available to 45 countries that are considered the poorest and in vital need of such drugs.
Pfizer has also included 23 other patented medicines, vaccines for infectious diseases, cancer drugs, and treatments for rare and inflammatory diseases. The company said it would ship catalogs of 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 the company developed with BioNTech.
“But clearly, the antiviral (Paxlovid) is going to be a very big deal for them – if they need it, they can get it immediately,” said Albert Bourla, chief executive of Pfizer. He further said that the company has studied what medicines to send – so they can be of use once delivered to the selected countries.
Pfizer calls this program “An Accord for a Healthier World,” which targets 27 low-income countries and 18 lower-income countries that are mostly from the African and Southeast Asian regions. During the World Economic Forum in Davos, five countries, including Ghana, Malawi, Senegal, Uganda, and Rwanda, have already expressed commitment to the accord.
The accord will let the drugmaker and the participating countries share “the burden of costs and tasks in the production and delivery of 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.
It can be recalled that during the pandemic, Pfizer was slammed 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.
The accord, said Bourla, 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.