How Pfizer defeated the epidemic, made an impact and made a profit

For more than two years after the epidemic, a company has made huge profits for Pfizer, making it hugely influential and highly profitable as Covid-19 continues to infect thousands of people, killing hundreds every day.

Its success in developing drugs against covid has given the pharmaceutical company an unusual weight in determining U.S. health policy. Based on internal investigations, company executives often announce the next stage of the fight against the epidemic, even before government officials have time to study the matter.

This has made many medical experts uncomfortable and some patients do not know who to trust.

Pfizer’s profit in 2021 was $ 81.3 billion, nearly double the revenue from 2020, when its best-selling products were the pneumonia vaccine, the cancer drug Ibrance and the patented-expired fibromyalgia treatment Lyrica.

The mRNA vaccine now owns 70% of the US and European markets. And their antiviral paxlovid is the first choice pill for the treatment of the initial symptoms of covid. This year, the company expects to earn more than 50 billion worldwide from these two products alone.

The value of Paxlovid for vaccinated patients remains unclear, and Pfizer’s Covid vaccine does not completely prevent infection, although each booster temporarily restores some protection. However, although patients may be hesitant about the need for repeated injections (2 boosters are now recommended for those over 50), the need for investors is gold dust.

“Hopefully we can run it annually and maybe for some groups that are often high-risk,” CEO Albert Borla told investors this year. “So you have treatment [Paxlovid] “What can we say, it will solve the problems of those who are suffering from the disease.”

A few days ago, the Biden administration agreed to buy another 105 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine for a ন 3.2 billion, yield booster campaign. At $ 30.47 per dose, this is a significant premium over the ড 19.50 per dose fee paid by the government for the first 100 million doses. The vaccine is being modified to target early Omicron variants, but new variants are gaining ground.

As the virus continues to change and will continue for a long time, the Pfizer product market will not go away. In rich countries, the public may probably come back for more, such as to eat what they want with a fixed price for dinner in a restaurant: satisfied but never completely satisfied.

Reliance on Pfizer products at every stage of the epidemic has signaled an American response, including critical public health decisions.

When Borla suggested last year that a booster dose would be needed soon, public health officials followed suit, giving the idea that Pfizer was in charge. Some scientists and public health experts are concerned that these decisions may be rushed, citing the fact that, although mRNA injections produced by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech initially boost antibody protection, it is common. Protection is not permanent

Since January, Borla has been saying that all adults will probably need annual booster shots, and senior Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials have indicated they agree.

Discussing a possible fall vaccination campaign by FDA advisers on June 28, Pfizer presented a study involving about 3,500 people that showed that changes to its vaccine had produced more antibodies against the Omicron variant, which began circulating last December.

But most advisers say the FDA should target the next vaccine, a newer omikron variant, known as BA.5.

This would mean more work and expense for Pfizer, which has asked the FDA to allow future changes to the covid vaccine without human trials, such as the annual flu shots approved. “If such a process were introduced, the response to future waves could be significantly accelerated,” said Kenneth Swanson, vice president of Pfizer Viral Vaccines.

At the meeting, FDA officials did not respond immediately to the advice.

As societies abandon other efforts to control the spread of covid, such as mask mandates and physical distance, Pfizer’s prospects look even more promising, especially now that the company has introduced Paxlovid, the first oral treatment for effective covid.

On May 3, Angela Hwang, president of Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group, told investors: “People are going out. We know that with all of this, the infection is on the rise and that’s what Paxlovid could play. “

During a recent investor call, a Pfizer official was able to convert recent reports from Paxlovid into good news, predicting that, like the vaccine, patients may need multiple courses of treatment.

Immunocompromised patients “can carry this virus for long, long periods of time,” explained Dr. Mikel Dolstein at the urging of investors. “And we see that area as a real new growth opportunity to make Paxlovid very good, where the individual may need to take multiple courses.”

Pfizer has spent a lot to increase its impact during the epidemic. Since the beginning of 2020, it has spent more than $ 25 million on internal lobbying and funding 19 lobbying agencies, pushing for legislation to protect its products and promote a stronger vaccination program.

Pfizer’s grants for political candidates in the 2020 cycle were higher than any other pharmaceutical company, with about $ 3.5 million, most of which goes to Democrats. Joe Biden received 351,000; Donald Trump is only 103,000.

Unlike Moderna, Sanofi, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson, who have raised billions of dollars in US support, Pfizer did not seek government funding for its vaccine, saying it would operate independently.

But Pfizer has benefited from the সরকার 445 million the German government paid to Pfizer partner Bioentech to make the vaccine. And, finally, Pfizer relies heavily on logical support from the U.S. government, according to a new book by Paul Mango, a former health and human services officer.

In 2021, Pfizer recorded 7.8 billion in revenue in the United States for its covid vaccine. The government has the option to purchase 1.6 billion doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and has so far purchased 900 million, of which 500 million are to be donated to poor countries at non-profit prices.

Pfizer’s terms in the agreement exclude many protections for taxpayers. They deny the government any intellectual property rights and say federal spending has no role in the development of the vaccine, although scientists at the National Institutes of Health have discovered a key feature of the Pfizer vaccine, Robin Feldman said. , University of California specializes in patent law.

“The deal could set a precedent,” where another company could cite the Pfizer deal to argue that the government has given up any rights to an innovation, he said.

The government has agreed to buy about 20 million five-day courses of Paxlovid treatment at 530 each.

Prices for drugs and vaccines for Kovid will rise once the epidemic is over, Borla said at an event in January, “to reflect sophisticated technology.”

Sharon Castillo, a spokesman for Pfizer, declined to answer specific questions about Pfizer’s impact on epidemic policy. Castillo said in a statement: “Since the first day of the epidemic, we have focused on working together with all relevant stakeholders to bring two medical successes to the world. And relied on production efficiency. “

There is no doubt that the company has made a scientific breakthrough by responding quickly to meet the medical needs caused by the epidemic. It uses artificial intelligence to track the spread of the virus and finds the best place to recruit volunteers for its vaccine trials and applies rapid drug screening tools to develop Paxlovid.

Its success with the covid vaccine has raised hopes for a Pfizer vaccine for the respiratory syncytial virus, a threat to children and older adults. The company is also moving toward licensing vaccines that protect against Lyme disease and hospital infections.

Pfizer has long avoided the vaccine business, earning historically little money. It abandoned human vaccine production after withdrawing its catastrophic measles vaccine in the late 1960s, which made dozens of children sick after experiencing unexpected reactions to vaccine-stimulating antibodies after exposure to the virus.

The company returned to the vaccination field in 2009 when it bought Wyeth, which is developing a highly effective and extraordinarily profitable vaccine against pneumonia and ear infections.

Now Pfizer is a new kind of global power. In 2021 alone, the company employed about 2,400 people. “We are now a family name to billions of people,” Borla said in January. “People believe in the Pfizer vaccine.”

The company’s power concerns some vaccine experts, who see its growing influence in physician decision-making, traditionally led by independent experts.

During a recent investor call, Evan Sigerman, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets, asked why the world is so often “blindly walking to recommend a backup”.

Data from Israel, which uses only the Pfizer vaccine and provides most research that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends booster vaccine, suggests that the third and fourth doses of the mRNA vaccine increase antibody levels, which again fall sharply.

The added boosters have saved some lives in populations over 60, but data on benefits for younger people is less clear.

When President Biden proposed a booster to Americans in September 2021, shortly after Borla recommended them, Dr. Paul Offitt asked: “Where? Evidence that you are at risk of serious disease when dealing with covid if you are vaccinated and under 50 years of age?

The booster recommendation policies for different groups are complex and variable, Affit said, but they should be made by the CDC instead of Borla and Pfizer.

“They’re pushing us,” he said. “Pharmaceutical companies are acting like public health agencies.”

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