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Generic drug makers producing a cheap version of Pfizer’s COVID pill

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By Michael Erman

March 17 (Reuters) – Thirty-five generic drugmakers around the world have produced cheap versions of Paxlovid, Pfizer Inc’s highly effective oral antiviral for COVID-19, to supply the treatment in 95 poor countries, published on Thursday. the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP).

Pfizer struck a deal with the group last year to allow generic manufacturers to make 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.

It is significant for Paxlovid to see an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 after a clinical trial reduced hospitalizations of high-risk patients by nearly 90%. Results far better than Merck & Co’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 for the producer of 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 year fines.

The 35 companies that produced versions of Paxlovid or its active ingredient are based in 12 different countries, according to the MPP. Among them are some of the world’s largest generic manufacturers, such as Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, India’s Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and US-based Viatris Inc.

Six of the companies will make the drug’s main ingredient, nine plan to turn it into a finished product, and the rest will keep 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 regions for the sale of generic versions of its drug while COVID-19 remains 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 privacy, according to the MPP.

(Edited in Spanish by Javier Leira)

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