Pfizer announced that it had received an order from the US government for an additional 3.7m treatment courses for its COVID-19 oral treatment, Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir [PF-07321332] tablets and ritonavir tablets).
The request for further treatments courses is in addition to the 20 million doses the government had previously ordered for 2022. The 3.7 million courses are planned for delivery by early 2023, Pfizer stated.
During the same week, two companies in China began selling the Paxlovid product in China, as the country faces the prospect of rising cases as it eases its COVID-related restrictions.
The first company to begin selling Pfizer’s treatment was healthcare company, 111.inc, which sold the treatment directly to consumers online. According to Reuters, the medication sold out in approximately half an hour of service.
Shortly after, China Meheco Group announced on the Shanghai stock exchange that it had agreed a deal with Pfizer to import and distribute the treatment in mainland China. The agreement began immediately and runs through to November 30, 2023.
Prior to these agreements, Pfizer had signed a deal with Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical to be able to produce and sell Paxlovid in mainland China for five years. The deal saw Pfizer provide the ingredients nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, which Huahai could then manufacture and combine into Paxlovid.
Pfizer’s treatment received conditional approval from China’s medical regulator in February 2022. The decision allowed Paxlovid to be provided to adults who had mild to moderate COVID-19 and a high risk of progressing to a severe condition.
The signing of several deals to supply Paxlovid arrive as China reverses its ‘zero COVID’ policy, which occurred as dissent over the stringent measures began to grow in the country.
As a result, China is facing a scenario where even though the population has similarly high levels of vaccination compared with other high-income countries, individuals could be at increased risk of severe cases.
This is due to the focus on providing Chinese-developed vaccines that have proven less effective in protecting individuals. The wider population has also been less exposed to the virus due to strict lockdowns.
COVID sales remain strong
The outcome for Pfizer is that it can rely on boosted sales of Paxlovid to continue to reap revenue from the pandemic.
Though the financials for its sales in China are not known, the initial deal with the US government for 20 million doses of Paxlovid were announced to be $10.6bn (€9.98bn).
The increase by 3.7m doses is then set to bring in approximately $2bn in additional revenue. In the third quarter of 2022 alone, Paxlovid achieved global sales of $7.5bn.