FRANCE – Pfizer has said that it will add a production facility for its antiviral COVID-19 pill in France as part of a five-year investment plan worth 520 million euros (US$594 million), Reuters reported.

The decision is part of Pfizer’s strategy to increase global production of the pill, paxlovid, which has been found to be nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in patients at high risk of severe illness, according to clinical trial data

According to Pfizer, the initial investment will involve the production of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) for paxlovid at a plant run by French pharmaceutical group Novasep, with additional Novasep facilities being added next year.

Novasep will produce API for use in our manufacturing network, expected to contribute to the overall (global) effort to produce 120 million courses of treatment in 2022,” it added.

The drug received emergency approval from the US Food and Drug Administration in December and is currently being evaluated for possible approval in the European Union.

According to a Pfizer spokesman, the company expects Novasep’s plant in Mourenx, south-west France, to be integrated into its global paxlovid supply chain in the third quarter of this year, with production expanding to include other Novasep facilities in 2023.

The production schedule has been confirmed by Novasep, who also stated that technical transfer, on-site development, and equipment installation activities at the Mourenx plant will begin immediately, with the company planning to hire more than 40 additional employees there.

Pfizer, which stated that it was too early to provide projections for Novasep output, stated that paxlovid was also manufactured at other sites around the world, including Ireland and Italy.

According to Pfizer, a portion of the 520 million euros will also go toward research in France, including collaborations with biotech firms there.

The company declined to provide a breakdown of its investments in research and manufacturing in France.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Texas has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make public the data it used to license Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, imposing a dramatically accelerated timeline that should result in the release of all information within eight months.

That’s roughly 75 years and four months faster than the FDA predicted it would take to complete a Freedom of Information Act request from a group of doctors and scientists seeking an estimated 450,000 pages of vaccine information.

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