World Health Organization (WHO) partners Unitaid have announced an agreement with the Pfizer laboratories to manufacture generic oral drugs to be used against COVID-19.
Unitaid spokesman Hervé Verhoosel said Tuesday during a press conference that the agreement ”will facilitate the production and distribution of the antiviral (...) through licenses to qualified generic manufacturers, in order to provide greater access to the global population, thus making the medication more affordable.
According to the agreement, generic versions of the experimental drug PF-07321332 developed by Pfizer will be produced to be administered together with ritonavir, which in small quantities reduces the risk of death from COVID-19 in patients with comorbidities by almost 90%, the pharmaceutical company explained.
However, the new treatment is still awaiting approval from local authorities of different countries. The initial results are promising, experts said.
The new agreement would bring the new drug, in combination with ritonavir, to 95 countries, representing 53% of the world's population,” Verhoosel added.
Generics production would take place without Pfizer collecting royalties for as long as COVID-19 continues to be an international emergency to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The agreement is an important step to ensure that the latest tools in the fight against COVID-19 are available in low- and middle-income countries at the same time as in more developed economies, Verhoosel also pointed out.
The new antiviral drug, designed especially for risk groups, can begin to be administered if there is news of having been exposed to the virus or with the first symptoms.
Following the announcement, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) demanded Pfizer specify the cost of the oral treatment after it was rumored the price would be around US $ 700 in high-income countries, not very different from Merck's pill.