- Pfizer is expanding an initiative to supply medicines to countries that can’t afford to pay full price, bringing the number of treatments involved to about 500 from the earlier total of 23.
- The effort is targeted toward 45 lower-income countries. Last year, Pfizer pledged to sell brand-name drugs and vaccines to those nations on a not-for-profit basis. Dubbed “An Accord for a Healthier World,” the program covered all of Pfizer’s patented vaccines and medications available in the U.S. or European Union.
- On Tuesday, Pfizer said it’s broadening the accord to include any therapy or vaccine for which it has global rights, including a raft of off-patent medicines. The new group of products features a variety of antibiotics, chemotherapies and oral cancer treatments.
CEO Albert Bourla first announced the program at last year’s World Economic Forum, a gathering of corporate executives, government officials and thought leaders that takes place in Davos, Switzerland. At the time, he declared the number of deaths from non-communicable diseases in poor nations “alarming” and said the effort would help Pfizer ramp up its efforts to fight health inequity.
Pfizer again chose Davos to unveil this year’s expansion of the effort and highlight initial progress. The New York-based drugmaker said it has delivered nine medicines and vaccines to Rwanda and deployed staff to provide training, education and support on supply-chain issues. And it’s working with health ministries in Malawi, Ghana, Senegal and other countries to identify their needs.
Pfizer and partner BioNTech have also collaborated with the U.S. government to supply their COVID-19 vaccine to a bigger pool of lower-income countries. The companies agreed to sell hundreds of millions of doses at cost to the U.S., which in turn planned to donate the shots to about 100 nations. But lower demand — because of logistical barriers and vaccine hesitancy — has curtailed the deal.
Meanwhile, Pfizer has declined to make a generic version of its COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid available in China, which is suffering from a surge in the disease after reversing its “zero Covid” policy. Negotiations on a price for the brand-name version broke down after China asked for too low a price, Bourla said recently, according to Reuters.
Helped by blockbuster sales of its COVID-19 products, Pfizer is one of the most profitable drugmakers in the world. In the third quarter of 2022, the company brought in $8.6 billion in net income on $22.6 billion in revenue.