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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Paxlovid deal allows generics of Covid-19 treatment for 95 countries

Neill Fronde



PHOTO: Paxlovid deal will provide the Covid-19 drug to less wealthy nations. (via Pink Sheet)

Pfizer struck a deal with Medicines Patent Pool to allow generic drug manufacturers to produce its new Paxlovid antiviral Covid-19 pills cheaply for less wealthy countries. The deal was announced yesterday and will bring down the cost of the Covid-19 treatment course for 95 countries that are considered low and middle-income. The access covers about 53% of the world population.

The plan to sublicense Paxlovid will reduce the cost by Pfizer’s voluntary waiving of royalty fees in the deal negotiated by MPP, an international organisation supported by the United Nations that focuses on getting needed medicines to poorer countries.

Paxlovid is still finishing trials and awaiting regulatory approval, but if all goes well, this deal will be put into action. The testing so far has shown that the drug, is up to 89% effective in reducing hospitalisation and death in new Covid-19 patients. The drug is most useful when started soon after infection and the trials were run on people within 3 days of symptoms beginning, though similar results were seen on patients that started within 5 days of symptom onset.

Pfizer is now requesting emergency use authorization in the US and hopes to have the pills on the market within a matter of months. The deal to waive royalties will be active as long as the World Health Organisation classifies Covid-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. As of now, Covid-19 is still ranked at the WHO’s highest alert level.

The Paxlovid medication works by hampering the enzyme that helps replicate the Covid-19 virus, thus blocking it from growing. It is taken with the HIV pill Ritonavir because that medication slow Paxlovid’s breakdown, keeping it fighting in the body for longer with high concentration.

Emerging medicines like this are vital to battling Covid-19 as a pill regimen can be self-administered and reduce severe symptoms, keeping hospitalisations down and focusing medical care on those who need it the most.

For this deal, the MPP will be considering companies to sublicence Paxlovid who submit their interest before December 6. The deal is similar to one made by Merck for their Molnupiravir antiviral pill that also fights Covid-19 and will be made available to 105 countries as a cheaper generic.

Doctors Without Borders had a less positive view on the deals, saying that the limited sublicensing is less useful that a blanket global access plan to fight the pandemic overall. The normal pricing for both of these antiviral treatments is suggested to be around UD $700.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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