Pfizer has expanded its program to provide drugs at cost to the world’s poorest countries from 23 patented medicines to its entire suite of approximately 500 products.
The New York pharma giant first revealed its initiative, dubbed “An Accord for a Healthier World,” last May. At the time, the program included Pfizer's COVID-19 oral antiviral Paxlovid and the company’s other patented vaccines and drugs.
The expansion covers off-patent products, such as chemotherapies and cancer therapies that have the potential to treat nearly 1 million new cancer cases in these countries each year, Pfizer said. It also covers antibiotics to combat infections—contracted in hospitals and clinics—that claim the lives of roughly 1.5 million each year in these countries.
The goal of the expansion is to “better align with disease burden and unmet patient needs in the countries,” Pfizer said. The accord has opened access to Pfizer’s drugs to 1.2 billion people.
To get the initiative rolling, Pfizer worked with the governments and health ministries of African nations Rwanda, Malawi, Ghana and Senegal. In all, 45 countries are included in the new accord.
During the coronavirus pandemic, inequities became apparent as wealthy countries were the first to be supplied with products to combat the disease.
As the company profiting most from the pandemic—thanks to record-shattering sales of its Comirnaty vaccine—Pfizer drew sharp criticism for the uneven distribution of shots and for initially resisting calls to share its intellectual property rights. In a report (PDF) released last year, Oxfam said Pfizer sold the most vaccines in the world but delivered the least to low-income countries as a proportion of total deliveries.
In 2021, Pfizer and Merck joined the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool, agreeing to share the intellectual property on their respective COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments to manufacturers around the world.