All about access: Pfizer moves to a non-profit model for drug sales in 45 lower-income countries
Leading the way to increase access to cheaper drugs worldwide, Pfizer said Wednesday it will provide all current and future patent-protected medicines and vaccines available in the US or EU on a not-for-profit basis to about 1.2 billion people in 45 lower-income countries.
Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda are the first five countries to sign on to this accord, which will also seek to blaze new paths for quick and efficient regulatory and procurement processes to reduce the usual delays in making new medicines and vaccines available in these countries.
“Combined with additional investments in strengthening Africa’s public health systems and pharmaceutical regulators, the Accord is an important step toward sustainable health security for countries at every income level,” President of Rwanda President Paul Kagame said in a statement.
Pfizer says so far it’s committed to providing 23 medicines and vaccines that treat various infectious diseases, cancers, and rare and inflammatory diseases, which collectively could save about one million lives each year in these countries, as well as help at least 500,000 more battling chronic diseases that significantly impact quality of life.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also helping out, funding Pfizer’s work around new vaccine candidates for the prevention of Group B Streptococcus, which is a leading cause of stillbirth and newborn mortality in low-income countries. The two sides are also discussing opportunities to support RSV vaccine development, another maternal vaccine.
Pfizer’s investigational RSV vaccine candidate builds on discoveries made at the NIH, which detailed the crystal structure of prefusion F, a key form of the viral fusion protein that RSV uses to attack human cells. In March, Pfizer’s vaccine candidate received a breakthrough designation from the FDA for the prevention of RSV-associated lower respiratory tract disease in infants from birth up to six months of age by active immunization of pregnant women.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told the Financial Times in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that this accord is not linked to Pfizer’s opposition to a proposal at the WTO to provide patent flexibilities around Covid-19 vaccines.
“I don’t connect the two at all. Frankly, I think it is something that is the right thing to do,” Bourla said.
Meanwhile, on the Covid-19 front, he said he’s worried about the complacency worldwide, warning that consequences could be seen in three to six months.