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19 Indian companies sign licensing pact for Pfizer's oral Covid drug

The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) announced on Thursday that it has signed agreements with 35 companies to manufacture the generic version of Pfizer’s oral Covid-19 treatment nirmatrelvir, which in combination with a low dose of ritonavir can be supplied in 95 low- and middle-income countries.

This includes 19 Indian drug makers like Torrent Pharma, Cadila Pharma, Hetero, Biocon, Strides, Glenmark, Emcure, Granules, Macleods, Sun Phar­ma, and Cipla among others.

MPP is an UN-based public health organisation working to increase access to life-saving medicines for low and middle-income countries (LMICs). MPP has an agreement with PF Prism Holdings BV (Pfizer) that grants MPP the rights to sub-licence manufacture and commercialisation rights to sub-licencees in 95 LMICs that cover 53 per cent of the world’s population.

On Thursday, Torrent Pharma said in a statement that it would manufacture and commercialise the generic version of Pfizer’s oral Covid-19 treatment.

It has signed a ‘non-exclusive, non-transferrable, non-sub-licensible’ licence agreement to use the patents and know-how in relation to the compound nirmatrelvir with the MPP for manufacture and commercialisation of the generic version of Paxlovid.
This oral therapy is used for treatment and prevention of Covid-19.

Pfizer’s Paxlovid consists of nirmatrelvir, which inhibits a SARS-CoV-2 protein to stop the virus from replicating, and ritonavir, which slows down nirmatrelvir’s breakdown to help it remain in the body for a longer period at higher concentrations.
Paxlovid is administered as three tablets (two tablets of nirmatrelvir and one tablet of ritonavir) taken together orally twice daily for five days, for 30 tablets. The drug is available by prescription only and should be initiated as soon as possible after the diagnosis of Covid-19 and within five days of symptom onset.

Torrent Pharma said it will launch the product after obtaining necessary approval from the regulatory agencies. The Indian regulator had asked companies to conduct local clinical trials, according to sources.

Aman Mehta, executive director, Torrent Pharma, said: “We are pleased to enter into this agreement with MPP and is part of our continued endeavour to make Covid treatments as accessible as possible to patients.”

Cadila Pharma, too, said that it will cater to the Indian and export markets for this drug.

“We are pleased to partner with MPP to make a generic version of the innovative medicine Paxlovid for the global community and contribute towards reducing the health burden due to the pandemic. We reiterate our commitment to make affordable innovations available to the last man in society,” said Rajiv Modi, CMD, Cadila Pharmaceuticals.

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