JAKARTADAILY.ID - U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced the deal to sublicense production of its prospective antiviral to generic drug manufacturers to help 95 low-and-middle-income countries combat COVID-19 on Tuesday.
The drug, also known as PF-07321332, will also have a commercial version named Paxlovid, prescribed to be taken with the HIV medicine ritonavir.
However, the oral antiviral medication, which demonstrated an 89 percent reduction in the risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization or death, still needs to pass ongoing trials and regulatory approval. If approved, the pill could be on the market in "a matter of months", said MPP policy chief Esteban Burrone to AFP.
"We are extremely pleased to have another weapon in our armory to protect people from the ravages of COVID-19," said Charles Gore, Executive Director of the Medicines Patent Pool.
The 95 countries count also include some upper-middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. This arrangement will cover around 53 percent of the world's population.
The production will be allowed through a licensing agreement with the United Nations-backed international public health group Medicines Patent Pool based in Geneva, where Pfizer waives its right to any royalties from the generic manufacturers.
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres regrets the exclusion of several countries from the deal, such as Mexico, Argentina, and China, that own considerably established capacity for producing generic drugs.
"We are disheartened to see yet another restrictive voluntary license during this pandemic while cases continue to rise in many countries around the world," said MSF Senior Legal Policy Adviser Yuanqiong Hu. "The world knows by now that access to COVID-19 medical tools needs to be guaranteed for everyone, everywhere, if we really want to control this pandemic."