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Pfizer to provide 10 million COVID pill courses to developing countries – the Global Fund

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment pill Paxlovid is seen in a box, at the Misericordia hospital in Grosseto, Italy, February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

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March 2 (Reuters) – Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) is expected to provide about 10 million courses of its highly effective COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid to low- and middle-income countries this year, according to an official with the Global Fund, an NGO in health care working to buy the pills from the drug maker.

The Fund’s policy strategist, Harley Feldbaum, said Pfizer has committed to at least that many doses and may increase shipments later if the organizations involved show they are able to distribute the pills well, noting most of which will be available later this year. .

“It’s obviously not enough or enough” to meet the needs in those countries, Feldbaum said, speaking to an online meeting of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), activists and academics organized by the influential consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

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It is unclear whether there are funds available worldwide to buy the pills and pay for the infrastructure needed to distribute them.

Pfizer said it would charge less for the drug in low-income countries, but did not disclose pricing. For wealthy countries, he said he planned to charge around $700 per treatment – although his US deal priced Paxlovid at $530.

“We are working with the ACT-A partnership on the provision of Paxlovid to low- and lower-middle-income countries as part of our commitment to equitable access to oral COVID-19 treatment,” the spokesperson said. Pfizer, Kit Longley, in a statement. details.

The Global Fund is part of the Access to COVID-19 Accelerator (ACT-A) partnership, an effort by governments and NGOs like the World Health Organization to provide testing, treatment and vaccines to low-income countries.

Pfizer said it expects to produce at least 120 million two-drug treatment cycles this year. This is well below the company’s estimate of the 2022 market for antiviral pills of 250 million people worldwide.

Paxlovid is expected to be a key tool in the treatment of COVID-19 after reducing hospitalizations in high-risk patients by around 90% in a clinical trial. The results were significantly better than those from a clinical trial of rival oral antiviral drug molnupiravir from Merck Inc (MRK.N).

Pfizer has already signed contracts for nearly 30 million courses, almost entirely in high-income countries, according to Knowledge Ecology International. The United States got 20 million courses of the drug.

Last month, Pfizer said it expects at least $22 billion in sales from Paxlovid this year, based on currently signed contracts alone, noting the figure could climb much higher as others agreements are signed. Read more

The 10 million treatments for low-income countries are “nowhere near enough,” Peter Maybarduk, director of the Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program, said in an email.

“Indeed, it is a frustratingly small part of an appallingly scarce supply that fails to learn from the lives lost and the moral catastrophe of vaccine inequality over the past year,” he said. he said, referring to early supplies of COVID vaccines that were scooped up by wealthier countries.

Pfizer has agreed to allow generic drugmakers to produce versions of Paxlovid for 95 low- and middle-income countries through an agreement with the international public health group Medicines Patent Pool (MPP).

But Pfizer and MPP do not expect any of the generic drug makers to be able to manufacture a significant supply of the drug by the end of the year.

The MPP plans to announce in mid-March which generic drugmakers have signed deals to produce the treatment.

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Reporting by Michael Erman Editing by Caroline Humer and Bill Berkrot

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