The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has revealed its plans of making 23 of its patented medicines available to 45 developing countries at low- or not-for-profit prices in a bid to make “An Accord for a Healthier World.” The company made the announcement in Switzerland at the World Economic Forum.
The program aims, by lowering the price of these drugs, to help these low-income countries gain access to medicines that the developed world has already. The program aims to reach over a billion people in these 45 countries with minimal distribution expenses as well.
The 23 medicines part of the program are available in the European Union and the U.S. on a large scale, however, are largely absent in the chosen developing countries. The medicines range from treatments for cancer to infectious diseases and even inflammatory conditions.
Furthermore, the U.S.-based pharma company will include training the public as well as health care providers as a part of the program.
Bill Gates termed Pfizer as an example for pharmaceutical companies stating that “Everyone, no matter where they live, should have the same access to innovative, life-saving drugs and vaccines,”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide Pfizer with funds to develop Group B Streptococcus vaccine as well as the Syncytial Virus (RSV) vaccine. Both diseases claim the lives of a large number of children in developing countries, which the Foundation hopes to prevent.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic made the inequality between developed and developing countries crystal clear, with the developed countries being able to acquire vaccines as well as other medical products to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pfizer had profited heavily from this pandemic with the notable success of its COVID vaccine. An Oxfam report highlighted that even though the company had sold the highest number of vaccines of any company globally, it had supplied low-income countries with the least vaccines in comparison to its competitors.
Initially, Pfizer also did not agree to share its intellectual property rights for the developed vaccine.
Pfizer’s CEO said that the company had been planning this initiative to provide subsidized COVID medicines to low-income countries for over 2 years now.
This program by Pfizer will not only supply the COVID-19 vaccine to these countries but will also include Paxlovid, which is an oral pill for COVID-19. Other diseases that disporportinately impact the developing world will be covered under the accord as well.
Five African countries have signed onto the program thus far. These include Senegal, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, and Malawi. The countries will work with the help of Pfizer to improve their infrastructure as well as their supply chain under Pfizer’s initiative.
Pfizer’s CEO stated at the World Economic Forum that “What we discovered through the pandemic was that supply was not enough to resolve the issues that these countries are having.”
Pfizer’s Covid vaccine brought the company over $35B in sales in the previous year, with estimates of another $24B to be made this year through the sale of Paxlovid.
Merck and Pfizer have both agreed to share their COVID-19 antiviral intellectual property with manufacturers as part of the UN’s Medicines Patent Pool.