Pfizer to sell all its medicines to low-income countries at no profit

USA — U.S. pharma giant Pfizer has pledged to make its entire portfolio of drugs and vaccines available to low-income countries on a not-for-profit basis.

The move will significantly expand an earlier scheme as the industry comes under renewed fire for affordability amid high drug prices and large profits.

The announcement expands on Pfizer’s “An Accord for a Healthier World” initiative, which was launched in May last year.

The Accord made 23 of Pfizer’s patented products, including the antiviral Covid treatment paxlovid, vaccines, and top cancer-fighting drugs, available on a not-for-profit basis.

The move, announced at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, will give some 1.2 billion people in the world’s poorest countries, including Afghanistan, Haiti, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Uganda, Senegal, Eritrea, and Cambodia, access to around 500 of the firm’s products.

It will include patented and off-patent medicines for which Pfizer has global rights, such as chemotherapies and oral cancer treatments, with the potential to treat nearly 1 million new cancer cases in covered countries each year, according to Pfizer.

Pfizer has previously been accused of “pandemic profiteering” due to the enormous profits generated by coronavirus-related medicines over the last two years.

During the coronavirus pandemic, inequities emerged as wealthy countries were the first to be supplied with disease-fighting products.

Pfizer, the company benefiting the most from the pandemic thanks to record-breaking sales of its Comirnaty vaccine, drew harsh criticism for the uneven distribution of shots and for initially refusing to share its intellectual property rights.

According to an Oxfam report from last year, Pfizer sold the most vaccines in the world but delivered the fewest to low-income countries as a percentage of total deliveries.

The program also includes a “wide range of antibiotics,” which the company claims will help address the costs and risks associated with antimicrobial resistance while also preventing approximately 1.5 million deaths from bacterial infections in hospitals and community health clinics each year.

Pfizer stated that it will add new vaccines and medicines to the non-profit scheme as they become available.

In 2021, Pfizer and Merck joined the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool, agreeing to share the intellectual property on their respective COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments to manufacturers around the world.

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