Over 90 low and middle-income countries will be able to gain access to a generic version of Pfizer’s COVID-19 treatment pill; Paxlovid, through a deal made last year.
The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer had struck a deal in the previous year with 35 pharma companies to produce the highly effective antiviral pill for the treatment of COVID-19.
Through this deal, 95 poor and middle income countries will be supplied with the generic version of the oral antiviral. Pfizer had been working towards the selection of pharmaceutical companies to provide licenses to.
The antiviral’s results have been promising, with it successfully reducing COVID-19 related hospitalizations among the high risk group by upto 90%. The results obtained during the clinical trial were remarkably more promising than Molnupiravir, which is Merck’s antiviral pill for the same purpose.
The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) is a public health organization backed by the United Nations. Both manufacturing companies of the COVID-19 antiviral pills; Pfizer and Merck have signed on with MPP to allow for the manufacturing of generic versions of their pills. This is especially rare in the pharmaceutical industry where treatment drugs are strongly guarded from generic drug producing pharma companies.
Merck & Co. has other deals, apart from the MPP deal, with pharma companies to produce Molnupiravir’s generic versions. Some of these versions are available already in certain countries licensed by Merck.
The 35 companies that will manufacture the generic version of Pfizer’s Paxlovid are spread across 12 countries including Indian Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Israeli Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, American Viatris Inc. These are some of the most prominent generic drug companies in the world.
Some of the companies will only produce Paxlovid’s active ingredient, some will use this to turn it into the finished antiviral pill and the majority of the companies will produce both the active ingredient and the end product, which is the generic version of Paxlovid.
The oral antiviral’s two compounds; nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. While nirmatrelvir is a newer compound, ritonavir’s generic version already exist in the market.
The MPP and Pfizer do not expect the generic company group to begin widespread manufacturing of the antiviral before the end of 2022.
After sale begins, Pfizer will not receive royalties from the manufactured generic Paxlovid until COVID-19 is not removed from the World Health Organizations “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” list.
The sale to low-income countries will continue to be free from Pfizer’s royalties even after the pandemic. The upper-middle-income countries will have a 5% royalty rate applied to its public sector and a 10% royalty rate applied to its private sector after the pandemic.
An NGO official of the Global Fund, stated that Pfizer is expected to supply low and middle- income countries with approximately 10M treatment doses of the antiviral Paxlovid in the current year.
The global market for antiviral COVID-19 pills is currently expanding. The estimated global market estimate for production of antiviral pills this year is 250 million doses. Pfizer has revealed its plans to produce at least, almost half of this number with plans to produce 120M of the doses in 2022.