Done Deal: Creating Anti-COVID-19 Equity
How an industry agreement could help bring affordable COVID-19 treatments to low- and middle-income countries
Maryam Mahdi | | Quick Read
Though COVID-19 restrictions are relaxing in many parts of the world, there are still people – particularly in developing countries – who are waiting for appropriate interventions against the disease. Helping to ensure medical equity for the 53 percent of people living in low- and middle-income countries, the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) has secured a sublicensing agreement with Pfizer that will help an anti-COVID-19 small molecule cocktail reach patients.
The sublicensing deal will allow 36 international generic drug developers to manufacture the raw materials necessary to develop Pfizer’s protease inhibiting drug, nirmatrelvir. It will also enable them to copackage the much-needed intervention with ritonavir, which has historically been used to treat HIV but has demonstrated anti-COVID-19 activity.
“We have established a comprehensive strategy in partnership with worldwide governments, international global health leaders, and global manufacturers to help ensure access to our oral COVID-19 treatment for patients in need around the world,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Pfizer in a statement (1). Pfizer will not take royalties from the low-income countries participating in the scheme. Middle- and high-income countries will pay royalties of 5 and 10 percent, respectively.
Manufacturers from 13 countries will participate in the deal, with Ukrainian company, Darnista, being the latest to sign the agreement. Speaking about the new sublicence, Charles Gore, Executive Director of the MPP said (1), “We are delighted that Darnitsa has felt able to sign a sublicense agreement with us at such a challenging time. This is the first time we have granted a sublicense to a Ukrainian company and is part of our commitment to ensure as wide a geographically dispersed manufacturing base as possible.”
See the full list of sublicense agreements.
- Medicines Patent Pool, “35 generic manufacturers sign agreements with MPP to produce low-cost, generic versions of Pfizer’s oral COVID-19 treatment nirmatrelvir in combination with ritonavir for supply in 95 low- and middle-income countries.” Available at https://bit.ly/36Cegvn. (2022).