You are currently viewing Pfizer’s dilemma: more profits for its shareholders or more life for Latin Americans

In recent weeks various organizations of civil society from different Latin American countries, in Chile, Peru and Colombia, as well as from the US, came together to demand that the pharmaceutical company Pfizer include more countries in the region in its agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool which allows access to the generic version of Paxlovid.

Paxlovid is a medicine used to treat COVID-19 and has broad medical support, since the World Health Organization, in April of this year, issued a strong recommendation on its use for patients with mild and moderate forms of COVID-19 who are at high risk of hospital admission, describing it as the best therapeutic option to date in high-risk patients.

In November 2021, Pfizer authorized the manufacture of generics through the Medicines Patent Pool in 95 countriesbut excluded Chile and most of Latin America, so to date it is not available in our country or in a large part of our region, despite the fact that Chileans die daily from COVID-19.

Regarding the price of the drug that governments have paid to access it, there is little information, due to the confidentiality that Pfizer includes in its contracts, in which they impose unpresentable conditions on public opinion. Neverthelesswe know that Panama in January of this year announced the purchase of Paxlovid for a total of 54,000 treatments against COVID-19, for an amount of B/.13,500,000.00, equivalent in Chile to the sum of $12,402,112,500, that is, approximately a quarter of a million pesos per patient.

These millionaire prices contrast with those reported by the pharmaceutical company Zenara Pharma, which launched a generic version of the drug from Pfizer under the brand name of Paxzen at a maximum retail price of Rs 5,200 per box, approximately 59,000 Chilean pesosa generic that Chile cannot access due to the monopoly that Pfizer has for its patent in our country, and that allows it to hold captive the “market” of patients at risk of dying or being hospitalized by COVID, forcing Chile to meet conditions and prices anti-competitive measures that will divert resources from other health needs.

According to him last financial reportPfizer’s earnings in 2021 were $81.3 billion, approximately double their 2020 income, which is surely not enough for them, despite the call for solidarity at the beginning of the pandemic, in which countries and companies promised that medicines against COVID-19 would be public goods, which was buried along with millions of others. victims.

It should be noted that the sense of the request that civil society organizations have made to Pfizer, such as Innovarte ONG, which I direct, and AIS Peru, aims not only to allow fair prices for the medicine, but also to ensure its availability , well production capacities, as we have seen in the past, they are limited in cases where the producer is a single company.

Finally, what is required of Pfizer is not to give away the drugs or give up its intellectual property rights, but to include Chile and Peru, along with the other Latin American countries, in Pfizer’s agreement with generic manufacturers of Paxlovid already subscribed and for which said company will receive a royalty or remuneration. Pfizer still hasn’t answered. What can we think and project of all this? Greed? Or decency and life?

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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