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Pfizer says it will offer low-cost medicines, COVID-19 vaccine to poor nations

US-based company will charge only manufacturing costs and ‘minimal’ distribution fees; most target countries are in Africa, along with Haiti, Syria, Cambodia, North Korea

A woman pushes a baby in a stroller past a sign hanging outside Pfizer headquarters in New York, May 23, 2022. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
A woman pushes a baby in a stroller past a sign hanging outside Pfizer headquarters in New York, May 23, 2022. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

AP — Pfizer said Wednesday that it will provide nearly two dozen products, including its top-selling COVID-19 vaccine and treatment, at not-for-profit prices in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The drugmaker announced the program at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, and said it was aimed at improving health equity in 45 lower-income countries. Most of the countries are in Africa, but the list also includes Haiti, Syria, Cambodia and North Korea.

The products, which are widely available in the US and the European Union, include 23 medicines and vaccines that treat infectious diseases, some cancers and rare and inflammatory conditions. Company spokeswoman Pam Eisele said only a small number of the medicines and vaccines are currently available in the 45 countries.

New York-based Pfizer will charge only manufacturing costs and “minimal” distribution expenses, Eisele said. It will comply with any sanctions and all other applicable laws.

The drugmaker also plans to provide help with public education, training for health care providers and drug supply management.

“What we discovered through the pandemic was that supply was not enough to resolve the issues that these countries are having,” Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said Wednesday during a talk at Davos.

He noted that billions of doses of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, have been offered for free to low-income countries, mainly through the US government, but those doses can’t be used right now.

Albert Bourla, Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer, speaks at a Press Conference on Pfizer and Partners Announce Accord for a Healthier World at the 51st annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, May 25, 2022. (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)

Earlier this month, the head of the World Health Organization called on Pfizer to make its COVID-19 treatment more widely available in poorer countries.

Comirnaty brought in nearly $37 billion in sales last year, and analysts expect the company’s COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid to add almost $24 billion this year, according to the data firm FactSet.

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