How Pfizer won the epidemic, reaping huge profits and impact

The two-plus-year grinding of the epidemic has given an outsourced facility to a company – Pfizer – making it highly effective and highly profitable because Kovid-19 infects thousands of people and kills hundreds every day.

Its success in making covid drugs has given drug manufacturers an unusual weight in determining U.S. health policy. Based on internal research, company executives often announce the next stage in the fight against the epidemic before government officials have time to study the problem, annoying many medical experts and not convincing some patients who to trust.

Pfizer’s revenue in 2021 was $ 81.3 billion, nearly double its revenue in 2020, when its top sellers were the pneumonia vaccine, the cancer drug Ibrance and the fibromyalgia treatment Lyrica, which went out of patent.

Its mRNA vaccine now accounts for 70% of the US and European markets. And its antiviral paxlovid pill of choice for the treatment of early symptoms of covid. This year, the company expects to earn more than 50 50 billion worldwide from just two drugs.

The value of paxlovid to vaccinated patients is not yet clear, and Pfizer’s covid vaccine does not completely prevent infection, although each booster temporarily restores some protection. Still, patients may shy away from the need for repeated injections – now two boosters are recommended for people 50 years of age and older – the need for investors is gold.

“Hopefully, we can pay it off annually and maybe for some groups that are often more risky,” CEO Albert Borla told investors this year. “Then you have treatment [Paxlovid] I will say that it will solve the problems of those who are affected by this disease. ”

Just last week, the Biden administration agreed to buy another 105 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine for the fall booster campaign, paying 3.2 billion. At a dose of 30.47, this is a significant premium over the সরকার 19.50-a-dose rate for the government’s first 100 million. 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 market for Pfizer products will not go away. In rich countries, the public may come back for more, like a restaurant dinner you can eat, satisfied but never completely satisfied.

Reliance on Pfizer products at every stage of the epidemic has driven the U.S. response, which has included critical public health decisions.

Last year when Borla suggested a booster shot would be needed soon, U.S. public health officials later followed suit, giving the idea that Pfizer was calling the tune. Some public health experts and scientists have expressed concern that these decisions were hasty, noting that although booster primarily improves antibody protection with mRNA shots produced by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, it does not usually last.

Since January, Borla has been saying that U.S. adults will probably need annual booster shots, and senior FDA officials have indicated since April that they agree.

Discussing a possible fall vaccination campaign with FDA advisers on June 28, Pfizer presented a study involving about 3,500 people that showed that changes to its covid vaccine allowed it to produce more antibodies against the omikron variant aired last December. But most advisers say the FDA’s next vaccine is needed to target an even newer Omicron variant known as BA.5.

That would mean more work and expense for Pfizer, which has called on the FDA to enable future changes to the covid vaccine without human testing – the way annual influenza vaccines are approved. “If such a process were to be implemented, future wave responses could be significantly accelerated,” said Kenneth Swanson, Pfizer’s vice president for viral vaccines.

FDA officials at the meeting did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

Angela Hawang, president of Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group, told investors on May 3, “People will get out of there.

During a recent investor call, a Pfizer official may turn to recent reports that the virus may be hiding good news from Paxlovid, predicting that, like the vaccine, patients may need multiple courses.

Immunocompromised patients “can carry this virus for very, very long periods of time,” Dr. Mickel Dolstein urged investors. “And we see that area as a truly new opportunity growth area for Paxlovid, where you may have to take multiple courses.”

Pfizer has spent nicely to strengthen its influence during the epidemic. Since the beginning of 2020, it has spent more than 25 million funding in-house lobbying and 19 lobbying firms, pushing for legislation to protect its products, and promoting a stronger U.S. vaccination program.

In the 2020 cycle, Pfizer’s funding for political candidates was higher than any other pharmaceutical company, totaling about $ 3.5 million, with the bulk going to Democrats. Joe Biden received 351,000; Donald Trump is only 3 103,000.

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

The German government has benefited from the $ 445 million it has given to Pfizer partner BioNTech to develop the vaccine. And, finally, according to a new book by former health and human services officer Paul Mango, Pfizer relied heavily on logistical support from the U.S. government.

In 2021, Pfizer recorded revenue of US $ 7.8 billion for its covid vaccine. The government has the option to purchase a dose of 1.6 billion Pfizer vaccines and has so far purchased 900 million, of which 500 million have been donated at a non-profit price. Poor country.

Pfizer’s terms in the agreement exclude many taxpayer protections. They deny the government any intellectual property rights and say federal spending does not play a role in the development of the vaccine – although National Institute of Health scientists have discovered a key feature of the Pfizer vaccine, says Robin Feldman, a patent law expert at the University of California.

“The deal could set a precedent,” where another company could argue, citing Pfizer’s agreement, that the government had surrendered any rights to an innovation, he said.

The government has agreed to buy about 20 million five-day courses from Paxlovid for $ 530 each.

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

Pfizer spokesman Sharon Castillo declined to answer specific questions about Pfizer’s impact on epidemic policy. He said in a statement: “Since day 1 of this epidemic, we have been laser-focused on working collaboratively with all relevant stakeholders to bring two medical successes to the world. We relied on efficiency and production efficiency. “

There is no question that the company has torn up a scientific home run to respond quickly to 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 deploys 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 to seek licenses for shots that protect against Lyme disease and hospital infections.

Pfizer has long since moved away from the vaccine business, earning historically little money. It dropped from the human vaccine production in the late 1960s after withdrawing its catastrophic measles vaccine, which caused many children to become ill by reacting unexpectedly with antibodies stimulated by the shot after exposure to the virus. The company returned to the field in 2009 when it bought Wyeth, which is developing a highly effective and unusually profitable vaccine against pneumonia and ear infections.

Now, Pfizer is a new kind of global power house. 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 are believing in Pfizer vaccines.”

The company’s power concerns some vaccinologists, 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 booster”.

Data from Israel, which uses only the Pfizer vaccine and provides most of the research that has led to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine booster recommendation, suggests that mRNA increases the levels of antibodies to the third and fourth doses of the vaccine, which again decrease rapidly. The added boosters have saved some lives in populations over 60, but data on benefits for younger people is less clear.

When President Biden offered Americans a booster in September 2021 – just days after Borla recommended them – Dr. Paul Offitt wondered, “Where is the evidence that you are at risk of serious illness if you are vaccinated and under the age of 50 if you are exposed to covid?”

The booster recommendation policies for different groups are complex and variable, Affit said, but the CDC should make them instead of Borla and Pfizer.

“We’re being pushed along,” he said. “Pharmaceutical companies are acting like public health agencies.”

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