5 Chinese pharma companies sign on to make generic version of Pfizer’s oral COVID pill
Published: Mar 18, 2022 11:33 AM Updated: Mar 18, 2022 11:28 AM

Pfizer Photo:VCG

Pfizer Photo:VCG

Five pharmaceutical companies in China have signed on with UN-backed public health organization Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to manufacture the generic version of Pfizer's oral COVID-19 treatment, nirmatrelvir, for supply in 95 low- and middle-income countries the organization announced on Thursday. China was not included in the 95 countries.

The five pharmaceutical companies are Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co, Apeloa Pharmaceutical, Fosun Pharma, Zhejiang Jiuzhou Pharmaceutical Co, Shanghai Desano Pharmaceuticals Co, among which Jiuzhou will focus on producing the drug substance, while the others will produce both the drug substance and finished product.

Wu Yifang, Chairman and CEO of Fosun Pharma said that the company is pleased to reach an agreement with the MPP to contribute to jointly improving global access to COVID-19 medicines. 

“Fosun Pharma is committed to improving the accessibility of COVID-19 drugs in low-income countries and will continue to make contributions to global efforts to combat the disease,” Wu told the Global Times in a statement on Friday.

The five Chinese companies are among 35 global drug makers lined up by the MPP to make the generic version of Pfizer's oral COVID-19 treatment, nirmatrelvir.

The sublicense agreements are the result of the voluntary licensing agreement signed by MPP and Pfizer in November 2021, and will help enable the supply of the medicines to 95 low- and middle-income countries, comprising approximately 53 percent of the world's population.

The objective of the license is to ensure that new medicine such as nirmatrelvir can be made available as soon as possible at affordable prices in low- and middle-income countries, Pfizer said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

The agreement covers 53 percent of the world’s population, including all low-income and lower-middle-income countries, as well as some upper-middle-income countries, the company said.
The non-exclusive sublicense will allow generic manufacturers to produce the raw ingredients for nirmatrelvir and/or the finished drug itself, co-packaged with ritonavir, according to the MPP.