Pfizer Inc is not in talks with Chinese authorities to license a generic version of its Paxlovid COVID-19 treatment for use there, but is in talks about a price for the branded product, Chief Executive Albert Bourla said on Monday.
Reuters reported on Friday that China was in talks with Pfizer to obtain a license allowing domestic drugmakers to manufacture and distribute a generic version of Paxlovid, the U.S. company’s COVID-19 antiviral.
Referring to that article, Bourla, speaking at J.P. Morgan’s health conference in San Francisco, said, “We’re not in conversations. We already have an agreement for the local manufacture of Paxlovid in China. So we have a local partner who will manufacture Paxlovid for us and then sell it to the Chinese market.”
Pfizer has a licensing agreement with the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool that allows 35 drugmakers around the world to manufacture cheap versions of Paxlovid and supply the treatment in 95 poorest countries.
That license does not allow them to sell generic Paxlovid in China, where infections have skyrocketed since December, leading to severe shortages of flu and COVID-19 drugs.
A box of Paxlovid, which is used for a single treatment, is being traded for up to 50,000 yuan ($7,313), according to local media and social media, up from the original price of about 2,000 yuan.
Bourla explained that the company had shipped thousands of doses of the treatment in 2022 to China and that, in recent weeks, it had increased the number to millions.