President Kagame, Pfizer boss discuss progress on sharing pharmaceutical patents

President Paul Kagame and Albert Bourla, the Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, a global biopharmaceutical company, discussed strengthening partnership on sharing Pfizer’s pharmaceutical patents with developing countries.

The discussions were held on September 18, on the sidelines of Kagame’s working visit to New York to attend the UN’s Digital Day and the General Debate of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.

“They discussed the importance of Pfizer’s Accord for a Healthier World initiative towards reducing health inequities and addressing challenges of access to health care,” said the President’s Office.

Through the initiative announced in May 2022, Rwanda was the first country to receive a delivery of patent-protected products for oncology, infectious, inflammatory, and rare diseases. This commitment will include all future Pfizer medicines and vaccines, as they are discovered and launched.

Other African countries which committed to join the accord include Malawi, Ghana, Senegal and Uganda.

Pfizer said its plan includes 23 wholly-owned patented medicines and vaccines that treat infectious diseases, certain cancers, and rare and inflammatory diseases.

In addition to Paxlovid and Ibrance, the list includes high demand-pneumonia vaccine Prevnar 13, rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz and cancer treatments Xalkori and Inlyta.

Making these medicines and vaccines more readily available has the potential to treat non-communicable and infectious diseases that claim the lives of nearly one million people each year in these countries and chronic diseases that significantly impact quality of life for at least half a million more.

Faced with the existing health equity gap which determines who can use specific innovation and who cannot, Rwanda and other African countries embarked on a journey to reduce Africa’s pharmaceutical over-reliance on developed countries through building a medical ecosystem on the continent.

Efforts include the establishment of African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation (APTF) aimed at accelerating technology innovation in the health sector, and the African Medicine Agency (AMA) –a specialized agency intended to facilitate the harmonisation of medical products regulation across the continent in order to improve access to quality, safe and efficacious medical products.

The construction of the BioNTech vaccine manufacturing plants in Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa, aimed at manufacturing and promoting scalable mRNA vaccines in Africa is underway.

In March, Rwanda received containers of the first BioNTainer- facilities in Kigali Special Economic Zone in Gasabo District.

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