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Pfizer Plans To Produce and Market COVID-19 Generic Drugs in China?

After the failure of China medical insurance negotiations for Pfizer's COVID-19 drug Paxlovid, rumors about "Pfizer plans to produce and market COVID-19 generic drugs in China" has also spread in the market. However, the news has been quickly denied by Pfizer afterward.

Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Albert Bourla said on Monday that the company is not in talks with Chinese authorities to license a generic version of its COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid for use there.

Bourla, speaking at J.P. Morgan's healthcare conference in San Francisco, also said that talks with China on future pricing for the treatment had broken off after China had asked for a lower price than Pfizer is charging for most lower-middle-income countries.

"They are the second highest economy in the world, and I don't think they should pay less than El Salvador," Bourla said. He said the company is back in discussions with Chinese authorities.

He also said that Pfizer has reached an agreement on the local production of Paxlovid in China and has a local partner who will produce Paxlovid for them and then sell it in the Chinese market.

It is worth noting that in March last year, including Huahai Pharmaceuticals, 5 Chinese pharmaceutical companies also obtained the production of generics of Pfizer's COVID-19 treatment drug Nirmatrelvir (Nirmatrelvir).

Specifically, among the five Chinese pharmaceutical companies, Shanghai Desano, Huahai Pharmaceutical (600521. SH), Apeloa Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (000739. SZ), and Fosun Pharma (600196. SH, 02196. HK) produce Naimatevir raw materials and finished drugs, while Jiuzhou Pharma produces Naimatevir raw materials.

Five authorized Chinese pharmaceutical companies mainly supply 95 low- and middle-income countries, covering about 53% of the world's population. However, China is not included in the scope of supply.

Pfizer's Paxlovid is primarily a combination of two drugs, Naimatevir and Ritonavir.

Namatevir is a SARS-CoV-2 main protease (MPRO, also known as 3CL protease) inhibitor. When it is administered with low doses of ritonavir to help slow down the metabolism or breakdown of namatevir, it will be active in the body for a more extended period at higher concentrations to help fight the SARS-CoV-2.

Ritonavir is a pharmacokinetic enhancer of several oral antiviral drugs targeting viral proteases.

As another way-out, many Chinese companies are developing similar oral drugs for COVID-19 treatment.

At present, Simcere Pharmaceuticals (02096. HK), the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology jointly developed SIM0417, an oral drug for the treatment of COVID-19 with 3CL targets.

On December 26, 2022, the Drug Administration of Jiangsu Province The Authority announced on its official account that SIM0417 is expected to be listed in February 2023 at the earliest.


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