US pharmaceutical company Pfizer on Tuesday (November 16) said it will allow other drug manufacturers to produce its Covid-19 medication at a cheaper rate and sell in poorer countries.
Pfizer is awaiting clearance in trials and approval from drug regulatory authorities for its Paxlovid pill which can be consumed orally. It is to be taken with the HIV medicine ritonavir.
“We believe oral antiviral treatments can play a vital role in reducing the severity of Covid-19 infections, decreasing the strain on our healthcare systems and saving lives,” said Pfizer chairman and chief executive Albert Bourla, according to an AFP report.
“We must work to ensure that all people — regardless of where they live or their circumstances — have access to these breakthroughs,” he said.
As per the deal, Pfizer will not take royalties on sales of Paxlovid in 95 countries as long as the World Health Organization has classified Covid-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Paxlovid, or PF-07321332, is said to block the activity of the SARS-CoV-2-3CL protease — an enzyme that the coronavirus needs to replicate. When taken with ritonavir, it lasts longer and in a higher concentration, helping patients avoid severe illness and death.
Data from ongoing trials show an 89% 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. Similar results were seen within five days of symptom onset, said Pfizer.
Pfizer also produces a Covid vaccine with German lab BioNTech which is in use in several countries currently.