GENEVA (AP) — Nearly three dozen companies around the world will soon start making generic versions of Pfizer’s anti-coronavirus pill, the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool, which brokered the agreement, said on Thursday. OK.
The Medicines Patent Pool said in a statement that agreements signed with 35 companies are expected to help make Pfizer’s antiviral nirmatrelvir, or Paxlovoid, available to more than half of the world’s population.
Generic drug makers in a dozen countries in Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Eastern Europe will begin producing either the raw ingredients of the Pfizer drug or the pill itself. Among the companies offered a license was one in Ukraine, which has not yet been able to confirm that it can participate.
“It will make a huge difference for countries.” said Charles Gore, executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool. He said the availability of the Pfizer drug in some of the world’s poorest countries is particularly critical. “They’ve been at the back of the vaccine queue, so having a treatment like this in the arsenal will be absolutely critical to preventing deaths.”
Gore estimated that some of the generic companies could be ready to submit their drugs for regulatory approval later this year, with supplies available in 2023.
Pfizer’s drug was found to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by up to 90% in people at risk of severe COVID-19; it is also believed to be effective against the omicron variant because it does not target the coronavirus spike protein, where most of the concerning mutations are found.
Many health experts welcomed the deal, but pointed out that loopholes remain. Some countries that have suffered devastating outbreaks of COVID-19, such as Brazil, for example, are excluded from the agreement. Under the terms of the agreements, Brazilian companies can manufacture the Pfizer pill, but the generic version will not be available for sale there.
Pfizer will not receive royalties from the sale of its drug by generic companies as long as the coronavirus pandemic remains classified as a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.
In January, the Medicines Patent Pool announced a similar deal with Merck, when it signed agreements with more than two dozen companies licensed to manufacture their COVID pill, molnupiravir.
None of the companies that make COVID-19 vaccines have so far agreed to work with the group to allow other manufacturers to make their vaccines.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.