Pfizer is providing inexpensive medicines and vaccines – including Covid treatments – to the world’s poorest countries

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Pharma giant Pfizer said Wednesday it would make its entire portfolio of patented drugs and vaccines available to low-income countries on a non-profit basis to help fill the global healthcare gap that has come under renewed scrutiny during the Covid-19 pandemic .

Important facts

The US drugmaker said it would sell its patented drugs and vaccines, available in the US and EU, to the world’s poorest countries on a non-profit basis.

The initiative, announced at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, will make available 23 drugs and vaccines to treat infectious diseases, some cancers and rare and inflammatory diseases, including Covid-19, leukemia, breast cancer, the company said , pneumonia and meningitis.

The program is part of Pfizer’s A Deal for a Healthier World initiative and will cover 1.2 billion people in 45 low-income countries.

Five countries – Uganda, Malawi, Senegal, Ghana and Rwanda – have already joined the agreement and will work to identify other barriers to healthcare beyond the supply of medicines, such as: B. supply chain management, politics and medical education.

Insights from these five countries will be “applied to support adoption for the remaining forty,” Pfizer said.

The rollout of vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that “supply is only the first step in helping patients,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said, adding that the company will work with healthcare leaders to to make improvements to overcome other barriers and end health care inequalities.

What to look out for

New additions. Pfizer said it will add new drugs and vaccines to its nonprofit portfolio as it brings them to market elsewhere. The company also said it is working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a major funder of global health campaigns, to develop vaccines against group B streptococcus, a leading cause of stillbirth and newborn deaths in low-income countries. Pfizer also said the foundation is discussing ways to support the company’s work on a vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), one of the world’s leading killers of children. Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation, said: “Everyone, no matter where they live, should have equal access to innovative, life-saving medicines and vaccines.”

key background

Pfizer, along with other pharmaceutical companies, has come under fire during the Covid-19 pandemic for the uneven distribution of its coronavirus vaccine. Vaccination went disproportionately to wealthy countries, even though they had vaccinated all high-risk groups and poorer countries had given few — if any — vaccines. The inequality revived global discussion about giving up certain intellectual property rights on life-saving vaccines and medicines, which drug companies said would not be enough to bridge the bottleneck and increase supplies.

Further reading

Pfizer warns of ‘constant waves’ of Covid as complacency grows (FT)

Giving up patents on Covid-19 vaccines is not enough to speed up production (Forbes)

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