Pfizer to Share COVID-19 Tablet License, Bringing Relief to Millions

by Michael London | 11/16/2021 10:55 AM
Pfizer to Share COVID-19 Tablet License, Bringing Relief to Millions

According to Pfizer, the arrangement may provide access to the Covid-19 immunization therapy to more than half of the world's population.


Pfizer has agreed to a license-sharing agreement that would enable its experimental COVID-19 medicine to be produced more extensively worldwide.

It is an arrangement that the corporation claims will provide access to the tablet vaccine to more than half of the world's population, despite requests for Pfizer to give poorer nations access to its coronavirus vaccine mix.

Paxlovid, a tablet regimen developed by the business, was shown to lower the risk of COVID-related hospitalization or mortality by 89 percent when provided within three days after the beginning of symptoms, according to a corporate announcement earlier this month.

Although it has not yet acquired regulatory clearance in the United States, Pfizer has said that it intends to apply to the Food and Drug Administration as soon as feasible to get the necessary permission.

Pfizer and Medicines Patent Pool reached an agreement to grant the license to Pfizer. "This license is critical because, if authorized or approved, this oral drug is particularly well-suited for low- and middle-income countries and has the potential to save lives while also contributing to global efforts to combat the current pandemic," said Charles Gore, executive director of Medicines Patent Pool. This nonprofit organization negotiated the agreement with Pfizer.

MPP is supported by the United Nations and has been tasked with facilitating worldwide access to life-saving medications since its inception.

Pfizer is the second pharmaceutical company to sign an arrangement with the consortium, which will offer sublicenses to other companies for them to develop generic copies of the medication.

Merck revealed last month that it had reached an agreement with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to split the license for its COVID-19 antiviral tablet, molnupiravir, which is created together.

It is "really excellent news," according to Ellen Van Hoen, head of the research organization Medicines Law & Policy because a second COVID-19 medicine might be made more widely available as part of the Pfizer pact thanks to an MPP agreement.

As stated in a joint release by Pfizer and MPP, the agreement would enable manufacturers to serve nations with populations accounting for 53 percent of the world's total. The companies also said that the firm would provide tiered pricing to countries with varying financial capabilities.

Lower-income nations would be required to pay a nonprofit rate.

According to the announcement, Pfizer will also forego royalties in low-income countries and waive them in other nations as long as COVID-19 is classified as a worldwide public health emergency.

"Oral antiviral therapies have the potential to make a significant difference in lowering the severity of COVID-19 infections, reducing the load on our healthcare systems, and even saving lives," said Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer.

The president stated in a statement, "We must fight to guarantee that all people — regardless of where they live or their circumstances — have access to these discoveries, and we are glad to be able to collaborate with MPP to strengthen our commitment to equality."

Experts, however, caution that while the COVID-19 pills appear to be a significant step forward in pandemic management, they are not a panacea — and that vaccine producers such as Pfizer should license their intellectual property and know-how to the patent pool to maximize their chances of success.

"After all, prevention is preferable to a cure," Hoen said.

Several experts have expressed concern that, in certain countries where access to testing is restricted, it may be difficult to diagnose patients in time to deliver the tablet regimen properly.

The Pfizer vaccine formula produced in collaboration with the German business BioNTech has been a source of contention. Bourla has been a prominent opponent of those pressing the corporation to reveal its formula.

During a discussion last year, he referred to the concept as "stupid" and "destructive."

In a statement issued last week, Pfizer spokesperson Kit Longley defended the company's policy and expressed worry about the capacity of groups with "no demonstrated track record" to create high-quality vaccinations.

As he put it, "as we execute our present approach, we will continue to analyze if and where additional solutions could be suitable."

Both medications have been explored for usage in high-risk people, and both have shown promising results.

In addition, the United Kingdom has restricted the use of molnupiravir to patients aged 60 or older or those who have at least one underlying disease that puts them at risk of getting a severe illness.

Molnupiravir works by interfering with the virus's DNA. At the same time, Paxlovid employs an experimental chemical to inhibit an enzyme required by the coronavirus to replicate itself and spread.

When used in conjunction with ritonavir, an antiviral medicine used to treat HIV that helps delay the degradation of the Pfizer compound, the molecule's disintegration is significantly slowed.

According to Katherine Seley-Radtke, a chemistry professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, having a mix of medications accessible might help prevent the coronavirus from building a resistance to therapy.

According to her, "if you can inhibit the virus's reproduction in numerous phases or with several medications, you have an exponentially lower probability of the virus gaining resistance."

Pfizer claims that it has already begun producing Paxlovid. If the FDA approves the medication, it may be accessible immediately — although in limited numbers — in the United States.


                      Pfizer: Oral Covid antiviral cut risk of hospitalization, death by 89%

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