Pfizer Inc. reached a licensing agreement that will allow generic-drug manufacturers to produce inexpensive versions of its COVID-19 pill for ninety-five low- and middle-income countries, following a similar move by Merck & Co. In a statement on Tuesday, November 16th, Pfizer said it had signed an agreement with the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool to license the experimental pill. Once regulators authorize it, generic companies can supply it to countries that account for roughly 53% of the world population.
According to the statement, Pfizer won’t receive royalties from sales in low-income countries and won’t get royalties from sales to middle-income countries covered by the pact as long as COVID-19 is classified as a public health emergency. The widely awaited deal could help bolster access to a potent new virus-fighting tool.
“These are potentially life-saving drugs,” says Charles Gore, Executive Director of the Medicines Patent Pool. “The sooner we can get it out there, the more people who won’t need to go to the hospital and won’t die.”