US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said it would sell its patented drugs on a not-for-profit basis to the world’s poorest countries, as part of a new initiative announced at the WEF in Davos
“The time is now to begin closing this gap” between people with access to the latest treatments and those going without, chief executive Albert Bourla told a press conference at the exclusive Swiss mountain resort gathering.
“An Accord for a Healthier World” focuses on five areas: infectious diseases, cancer, inflammation, rare diseases and women’s health — where Pfizer currently holds 23 patents, including the likes of Comirnaty and Paxlovid, its Covid vaccine and oral treatment.
“This transformational commitment will increase access to Pfizer-patented medicines and vaccines available in the United States and the European Union to nearly 1.2 billion people,” Angela Hwang, group president of the Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group, told AFP.
Five countries: Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda have committed to joining, with a further 40 countries, 27 low-income and 18 lower-middle-income are eligible to sign bilateral agreements to participate.
“Pfizer’s commitment sets a new standard, which we hope to see emulated by others,” Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said. But he added that “additional investments and strengthening of Africa’s health systems and pharmaceutical regulators” would also be needed.
Essential medicines and vaccines typically take four to seven years longer to reach the poorest countries, and supply chain issues and poorly resourced health systems make it difficult for patients to receive them once approved.
“The Covid-19 pandemic further highlighted the complexities of access to quality healthcare and the resulting inequities,” said Hwang.
“We know there are a number of hurdles that countries have to overcome to gain access to our medicines. That is why we have initially selected five pilot countries to identify and come up with operational solutions and then share those learnings with the remaining countries.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: ALARABIYA.NET