Thirty-five manufacturers of generic drugs around the world will produce cheap versions of Paxlovidthe highly effective oral antiviral against Covid-19 from Pfizerto supply the treatment in 95 poor countries, the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) reported Thursday.
Pfizer it struck a deal with the group last year to allow generic manufacturers to produce the pills for 95 low- and middle-income countries. Since then they have been working to select the companies to which they will grant licenses.
Paxlovid is expected to be an important tool in the fight against covid-19 after a clinical trial reduced hospitalizations for high-risk patients by nearly 90 percent. The results were much better than Merck’s rival antiviral pill, molnupiravir, in its clinical trial.
Both Pfizer and Merck have struck deals with the MPP to allow generic versions of their new drugs in some parts of the world, unusual for drug companies, which typically fiercely protect their treatments during the life of patents.
Merck, through permission to the MPP, has agreements with dozens of drug manufacturers to produce its pill and in some countries there are already generic versions.
However, Pfizer and the MPP do not expect that any of the generic drugmakers will be able to have significant supplies of Paxlovid ready before the end of the year.
The 35 companies that will produce versions of Paxlovid or its active ingredient are based in 12 different countries, according to the MPP. Among them are some of the largest generic manufacturers in the world, such as the Israeli Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries, India’s Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and US-based Viatris Inc.
Six of the companies will manufacture the drug’s main ingredient, nine plan to turn it into a finished product, and the remainder will do both.
Paxlovid is a two-drug treatment that combines a new compound, nirmatrelvir, with the older antiviral ritonavir, which is already available as a generic.
Pfizer will not receive royalties from the sale of generic versions of its drug while the Covid-19 continues to be classified as a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” by the World Health Organization.
After the pandemic period, sales to low-income countries will continue to be royalty-free, lower-middle income countries and upper-middle income countries will be subject to a 5% royalty for sales to the public sector and 10% for the private sector, said the MPP.
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