Locally-produced Covid pills available in China in the next few months: Pfizer

In August last year, Pfizer signed a deal for Chinese drugmaker Zhejiang Huahai to produce Paxlovid in the mainland for patients there. The company is ready and awaiting approval.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

By CHEN Yang

 

Chinese patients may have locally made Paxlovid in the next few months, according to Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer.

“I won’t be surprised if that is achieved in the next three or four months,” he said at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference on Monday.

However, Paxlovid, - Covid pills developed by Pfizer - will not be covered by basic medical insurance, China's Healthcare Security Administration has said. Paxlovid is currently covered by public health insurance until March 31 under a temporary arrangement for 1,890 yuan (US$280) a packet.

Bourla told the conference that China offered a price lower than the company would accept from a “middle-income country.

In August last year, Pfizer signed a deal for Chinese drugmaker Zhejiang Huahai to produce Paxlovid in the mainland solely for patients there. Zhejiang Huahai said on January 9 that the company is ready to make Paxlovid, but approval is needed from health authorities.

China does not allow foreign-registered companies to manufacture medicine. That means if Paxlovid is to be made in China, Pfizer must find an agent, either its subsidiary corporation registered in China or a partner, like Zhejiang Huahai.

Pfizer and its agent also have to complete active-pharmaceutical-ingredient (API) registration and offer detailed data on its products. The process may be done within three or four months, experts said.