Pfizer Signs Agreement for its COVID-19 Oral Antiviral Treatment for Low and Middle Income Countries

This agreement with the Medicines Patient Pool (MPP) would allow licensing of the company’s antiviral treatment candidate, PF-07321332, internationally to numerous countries.

Pfizer announced today it had reached an agreement with the MPP that allows qualified generic medicine manufacturers in 95 countries the ability to secure sub-licenses that will supply the pharmaceutical company’s COVID-19 investigational oral antiviral therapy, PF-07321332, in combination with ritonavir internationally. With the agreement, it would cover up to approximately 53% of the world’s population.

According to Pfizer, PF-07321332 is an oral investigational SARS-CoV-2 protease inhibitor antiviral therapy, that can be prescribed at the first sign of infection or at first awareness of an exposure, potentially helping people avoid severe illness. PF-07321332 is designed to block the activity of the SARS-CoV-2-3CL protease, an enzyme that the coronavirus needs to replicate. Co-administration of this therapy with a low dose of ritonavir helps slow the metabolism, or breakdown, of PF-07321332 in order for it to remain active in the body for longer periods of time at higher concentrations to help combat the virus.

MPP is a United Nations-backed public health organization that is working to increase access to medicines for low- and middle-income countries.

“This license is so important because, if authorized or approved, this oral drug is particularly well-suited for low- and middle-income countries and could play a critical role in saving lives, contributing to global efforts to fight the current pandemic,” Charles Gore, executive director of MPP, said in a statement. “PF-07321332 is to be taken together with ritonavir, an HIV medicine we know well, as we have had a license on it for many years, and we will be working with generic companies to ensure there is enough supply for both COVID-19 and HIV.”

It is important to note there are countries not eligible for the agreement. According to a report in the NY Times, these excluded countries are Brazil, Cuba, Iraq, Libya, and Jamaica. A similar deal was done with MPP and Merck for its oral antiviral, molnupiravir, and Brazil, China, and Russia are all excluded from both the Merck and Pfizer agreements.

All of these countries would need to buy the antiviral directly from the pharmaceutical companies.