Investigations reveal Pfizer roadblocking access to COVID19 treatments

21 February, 2021: New research from Public Citizen reveals that Pfizer is roadblocking access to COVID19 treatments by filing patent applications in sixty-one countries for nirmatrelvir, a key component of its new COVID19 therapeutic drug, Paxlovid.

In November last year, Pfizer signed a licensing agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to authorize generic production of Paxlovid in ninety-five low- and middle-income countries, but Public Citizen investigations reveal that the company has simultaneously filed patents on the building-blocks of Paxlovid.

Burcu Kilic, Research Director in the Access to Medicines program at Public Citizen, told the press: “It’s clear that Pfizer is building a Paxlovid patent wall, and each brick in this wall can be used to block generic entry and affordable access in countries where Pfizer stands to make massive profits.”

“Even while Pfizer was taking credit for the licensing deal, Pfizer was busy building a far-reaching patent wall to prevent generic competition in the rest of the world.”

As evidence on Big Pharma roadblocking continue to mount, African leaders have called on European countries at an EU-Africa Summit to stop blocking a waiver on intellectual property patents over COVID19 vaccines, treatments, and tests.

Speaking directly to European Union leaders, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said "governments that are really serious about ensuring that the world has access to vaccines should ensure that we approve the TRIPS [Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights] waiver as we've put forward." 

In response, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a compromise would not be reached soon. Instead, she proposed a spring (March) deadline for an “end to the discussion.” The plan is for the African Union and European Union to meet alongside WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo Iweala in Brussels.” Madam Iweala is convening urgent talks to reach agreement on the waiver by the end of February.

  • To read the Public Citizen report, click here.
  • To read the Politico report on the EU-Africa Summit, click here.