Pfizer to allow generic version of COVID pill

Pfizer says it will allow generic versions of its COVID-19 pill to be supplied in 95 countries around the world.

It's struck a deal with the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool, which will see licenses granted to suitable manufacturers.

The U.S. giant says its pill cuts the chances of death or hospitalisation for adults at risk of severe disease by 89%.

MPP Executive Director Charles Gore says the treatment is just what's needed:

"This is a small molecule and therefore an oral drug in this particular case, which means that it's relatively easy to administer, short cost of treatment and potentially it doesn't have to be that expensive to produce and doesn't require people to go to hospital. So, very suitable for low- and middle-income countries, which is essentially our constituency."

The 95 countries cover just over half of the world's population, and include all lower- and middle-income nations.

Pfizer will waive its royalties on the drug in the designated countries as long as COVID remains classified as an international emergency by the WHO.

The company expects to manufacture 50 million courses of the treatment by the end of next year.

Tuesday's (November 16) news follows a similar announcement by rival Merck concerning its COVID treatment.

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