Pfizer has agreed to grant a royalty-free license to sell its anti-coronavirus pill in nearly 100 developing countries around the world.

Under the agreement signed with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), a UN-backed public health organization, Pfizer will not receive royalties on the sales of its promising antiviral pill in 95 poorer countries, including the states of Sub-Saharan Africa. The measure allows MPP to grant sub-licenses to “qualified” generic medicine manufacturers in each country.

The countries covered by the deal comprise around 53% of the world’s population, Pfizer said. “We believe oral antiviral treatments can play a vital role in reducing the severity of Covid-19 infections, decreasing the strain on our healthcare systems and saving lives,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said. 

We must work to ensure that all people – regardless of where they live or their circumstances – have access to these breakthroughs.

During its phase-two/three trial, the drug PF-07321332, trademarked as Paxlovid, reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in Covid-19 patients who took it within three days of symptom onset. The drug is administered in combination with low-dose ritonavir, a medication used to treat HIV/AIDS. 

The UN and the World Health Organization (WHO) have long been urging companies to make vaccines and other forms of Covid-19 treatment accessible and affordable for developing countries.

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