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WHO chief slams pharma firms for ‘moral failing’ on Covid-19 drugs

The chief of the World Health Organization called on pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices for Covid-19 drugs in order to make them more widely available.

Geneva, 23 May 2022 (dpa/MIA) — The chief of the World Health Organization called on pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices for Covid-19 drugs in order to make them more widely available.

While companies are making record profits, they are charging prices for these drugs that are not affordable for poor countries, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday. He spoke of a “moral failing,” without naming any particular company.

Some countries are unable to buy the life-saving drugs because of the short supply and high prices, he said. “It is simply not acceptable that in the worst pandemic in a century, innovative treatments that can save lives are not reaching those that need them,” Tedros said.

While the WHO accepts that pharmaceutical companies must be rewarded for innovation, “we cannot accept prices that make life-saving drugs available to the rich and out of reach for the poor. That is a moral failing,” he said.

In April, following on from several other drugs, the WHO recommended the drug Paxlovid made by US pharmaceutical company Pfizer for certain coronavirus patients. It can protect people from severe courses of the disease in the early phase of an infection.

Pharmaceutical companies usually offer drugs in three price categories, so low-income countries pay significantly less for them than rich countries. However, as with the initial coronavirus vaccines last year, many rich countries have secured much of the initial production of the new drugs, leaving little left over for poorer nations.

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