Pfizer has opened its drug cabinet to the poorest countries

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Davos (Switzerland) (AFP) – American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on Wednesday promised to sell some of its drugs and vaccines at cost to 45 poor countries, as part of an initiative announced at the Davos Economic Forum.

“With all we’ve learned and accomplished over the past two years, now is the time to start closing the gap between those who can access these changes and those who can’t,” said pharmaceutical giant CEO Albert Bourla. , at a press conference presenting the initiative in Switzerland.

Very well known to the world’s elite of bosses since the success of his vaccine against Covid-19, the leader was accompanied on the stage by the heads of state of Rwanda and Malawi, signatories to the agreement.

“Pfizer’s commitment sets a new standard that we hope to see others emulate,” said Rwandan Paul Kagame, who praised an “important step towards sustainable health security”.

Apart from these two states, Ghana, Uganda and Senegal have already joined this agreement which focuses on five therapeutic areas: infectious diseases, oncology, rare diseases, inflammatory diseases and women’s health.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame at a press conference on May 25, 2022 in Davos. Fabrice COFFRINI AFP

This will increase access to Pfizer’s patented drugs and vaccines available in the United States and the European Union for nearly 1.2 billion people.

23 vaccines and drugs

A total of 23 of the company’s vaccines and drugs are patented in related fields. These include, for example, some cancer treatments, but also the antiviral Paxlovid and the Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19.

If a better price is discussed elsewhere as part of equity efforts to fight the pandemic, it will apply, Pfizer says. Selling at value means that only manufacturing costs and transportation costs will be charged to the countries concerned.

“We exclude all the money needed for research, all the money needed for manufacturing, all the legal fees for making contracts and all administrative costs,” Bourla said Wednesday.

The CEO of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Albert Bourla, at a press conference, May 25, 2022 in Davos, Switzerland
The CEO of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Albert Bourla, at a press conference, May 25, 2022 in Davos, Switzerland Fabrice COFFRINI AFP

Furthermore, if other drugs are developed in the future in these areas, they will automatically be included in the agreement.

The agreement is intended to eventually apply to all low -income countries and 18 low- to middle -income countries, as defined by the World Bank.

Pfizer’s announcement will “facilitate access to some of its essential treatments, and hopefully allow a better fight against targeted diseases”, commented AFP Amesh Adalja, specialist in infectious diseases.

Exclusion clauses?

“The devil is in the details,” said Farasat Bokhari, a health economist at the University of East Anglia in England, who wonders whether these agreements include quantity promises or exclusion clauses that prevent other company marketing equivalent drugs.

In addition to the agreement with the five signatory countries on the distribution of vaccines and drugs, Pfizer must also work with them to identify necessary changes – particularly in terms of procedures, infrastructure or training of healthcare personnel – to these treatments + reach patients.

U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer vowed on Wednesday to sell some of its drugs and vaccines for value to 45 poor countries
U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer vowed on Wednesday to sell some of its drugs and vaccines for value to 45 poor countries CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU AFP/Archives

Albert Bourla also said Wednesday that the pharmaceutical giant continues to work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the goal of developing new vaccines.

“Partnering with companies like Pfizer is crucial to the progress we’ve made,” responded billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates, who is also present in Davos, citing the example of the pneumococcal vaccine.

Infectious diseases kill nearly a million people each year in these poor countries, according to Pfizer.

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