Pfizer agrees to let other companies make its COVID-19 pill

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Pfizer Says , Its COVID-19 Pill Reduces Risk , of Being Hospitalized or Dying by 89%.On Nov. 5, Pfizer released study results indicating that its new pills can offer protection if taken within three days of developing symptoms.Over 1,200 COVID-19 patients who were at a high risk of severe illness were examined.Some of the patients were given Pfizer's pills, and others were given placebos.Ten people who received placebos died, but everyone who took Pfizer's pills lived.According to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, the data suggests the pills could "eliminate up to nine out of 10 hospitalizations.".It is important to note that the study's results have yet to be peer-reviewed, though they are promising.Infectious disease experts maintain that vaccines are still the most effective way to lower your chances of being hospitalized with COVID-19. .These pills would only act as a second line of defense or help those in places where vaccines aren't readily available.Dr. Carlos Del Rio, the executive associate dean and a global health expert at the Emory School of Medicine, .says Pfizer's pills "would be a good drug for patient[s] with COVID and high risk of progression, vaccinated or not, although the vaccinated were not included in this study.".Merck has also developed a COVID-19 pill treatment and has already applied for FDA authorization

LONDON — Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. has signed a deal with a U.N.-backed group to allow other manufacturers to make its experimental COVID-19 pill, a move that could make the treatment available to more than half the world’s population.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Pfizer said it would grant a license for the antiviral pill to the Geneva-based Medicines Patent Pool, which would let generic drug companies produce the pill for use in 95 countries, making up about 53% of the world’s population.

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The deal excludes some large countries that have suffered devastating coronavirus outbreaks. For example, while a Brazilian drug company could get a license to make the pill for export to other countries, the medicine could not be made generically for use in Brazil.

Still, health officials said the fact the deal was struck even before Pfizer’s pill has been authorized anywhere could help to end the pandemic quicker.

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“It’s quite significant that we will be able to provide access to a drug that appears to be effective and has just been developed, to more than 4 billion people,” said Esteban Burrone, head of policy at the Medicines Patent Pool.

He estimated that other drugmakers would be able to start producing the pill within months but acknowledged the agreement wouldn’t please everyone.

“We try to strike a very delicate balance between the interests of the (company), the sustainability required by generic producers and most importantly, the public health needs in lower and middle-income countries,” Burrone said.

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Under terms of the agreement, Pfizer will not receive royalties on sales in low-income countries and will waive royalties on sales in all countries covered by the agreement while COVID-19 remains a public health emergency.

Earlier this month, Pfizer said its pill cut the risk of hospitalization and death by nearly 90% in people with mild-to-moderate coronavirus infections. Independent experts recommended halting the company’s study based on its promising results.

Pfizer said it would ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulators to authorize the pill as soon as possible.

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Since the pandemic erupted last year, researchers worldwide have raced to develop a pill to treat COVID-19 that can be taken at home easily to ease symptoms, speed recovery and keep people out of the hospital. Most COVID-19 treatments now must be delivered intravenously or by injection.

Britain authorized Merck’s COVID-19 pill earlier this month, and it is pending approval elsewhere. In a similar deal with the Medicines Patent Pool announced in October, Merck agreed to let other drugmakers make its COVID-19 pill, molnupiravir, available in 105 poorer countries.

Doctors Without Borders said it was “disheartened” that the Pfizer deal does not make the drug available to the entire world, noting the agreement announced Tuesday also excludes countries including China, Argentina and Thailand.