Pfizer will sell drugs to the world’s poorest countries on a non-profit basis

Pfizer will sell drugs to the world's poorest countries on a non-profit basis

It takes more than four to seven years for essential medicines to reach the poorest countries. (Representative)


US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said on Wednesday it would sell its patented drugs to non-profit countries around the world on a non-profit basis as part of a new initiative announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

‘An Accord for a Healthy World’ focuses on five areas: infectious diseases, cancer, inflammation, rare diseases and women’s health – where Pfizer currently holds 23 patents, including the Covid vaccine and oral treatment, like Comirnaty and Paxlovid.

Angela Hwang, group president of Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group, told AFP: “This transformational commitment will increase access to Pfizer-patented drugs and vaccines available in the United States and the European Union to approximately 1.2 billion people.”

Five countries: Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda – 40 more countries – 27 low-income and 18 lower-middle-income countries – are eligible to sign bilateral agreements for participation.

Developing countries account for 70 per cent of the world’s disease burden but receive only 15 per cent of global health expenditure, leading to disastrous results.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, one in 13 children dies before their fifth birthday, compared to one in 199 in high-income countries.

Cancer-related deaths are also much higher in low- and middle-income countries – causing more deaths each year in Africa than malaria.

All of these latest drugs are set against the backdrop of limited access.

Essential drugs and vaccines usually take four to seven years to reach the poorest countries, making it difficult for patients to receive them once they are approved for supply chain problems and poorly established health care systems.

“The COVID-19 epidemic has further highlighted the complexity of access to quality healthcare and the resulting inequality,” Huang said.

“We know that countries have to overcome many barriers to accessing our medicine. That’s why we initially selected five pilot countries to come up with operational solutions and then share those lessons with the rest of the world.” He said.

In particular, Pfizer will focus on ensuring adequate levels of supply as well as overcoming regulatory and procurement challenges across countries.

The “not for profit” price tag considers the cost of production of each product and transportation to the port of entry consent, where Pfizer only charges production and minimum delivery costs.

If a country already has access to a product at a lower price level, for example a vaccine supplied by GAVI, that lower price will be maintained.

Huang acknowledged that even a costly approach could be challenging for the most cash-strapped countries, and “this is why we have reached out to financial institutions to brief them on their Accord and ask them to assist in financing at the country level.”

Pfizer will liaise with other stakeholders – including governments, multilateral organizations, NGOs and even other pharmaceuticals – to ask them to join the Accord.

It is using funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a vaccine against Group B Streptococcus (GBS), a leading cause of stillbirth and neonatal mortality in low-income countries.

Responding to the news, Amesh Adalza of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said: “The Pfizer Accord program will give them access to some of the more complex drugs and hopefully lead to better control of targeted diseases including: covid, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, Tick-borne encephalitis and pneumococcal disease. “

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)

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