The American pharmaceutical giant has pledged to launch an initiative aimed at reducing inequalities in access to healthcare between rich and poor countries. A significant number of African countries should benefit from it.
The Pfizer group announced on May 25, on the sidelines of the 2022 edition of the World Economic Forum in Davos, that it would sell some of its medicines and vaccines at cost price to 45 low-income and middle-income countries, including the majority are in Africa.
This initiative, called “agreement for a healthier world”, covers five therapeutic areas: infectious diseases, oncology, rare diseases, inflammatory diseases, and women’s health. In these areas, Pfizer has 23 patented vaccines and drugs, including several cancer treatments, the antiviral Paxlovid and the anti-Covid 19 Comirnaty vaccine. And if other future therapies or vaccines are developed in the future in these areas, they will automatically be included in the agreement.
The sale of these treatments to the countries concerned will be on a not-for-profit basis, which means that production costs and transport costs only will be charged.
Five African countries have already joined the initiative launched by Pfizer. These are Senegal, Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda. “We have chosen to work with 5 countries with progressive governments who have the health of their population at heart. This will allow us to identify needs on the ground, in addition to providing treatment,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.
1.2 billion people affected
The initiative, which receives financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, should eventually apply to 27 low-income countries and 18 lower-middle-income countries, according to World Bank criteria. These countries are mainly found in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. “Pfizer will provide all of its patented medicines and vaccines available in the United States or the European Union on a not-for-profit basis to 1.2 billion people living in 45 low-income countries. This includes 27 low-income countries, as well as 18 countries that have moved from the low-income to lower-middle-income category over the past ten years,” detailed Albert Bourla.
Pfizer also plans to dedicate funds to support health systems in poorer countries to improve diagnostic capabilities, accredit drugs and train caregivers to use its therapies.
The pandemic has given a huge boost to Pfizer, whose coronavirus vaccine was the first to be licensed in the United States. In 2021, the group achieved a turnover of 81.3 billion dollars and garnered revenues of 22 billion dollars, coming in large part from the sale of its anti-Covid vaccine.
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