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ICYMI: Hope and Cures for Africa

October 10, 2017
For individuals and families across the globe, what were once considered deadly or debilitating diseases are now treatable thanks to biopharmaceutical innovation. And as we look ahead, we can’t help but think about the 7,000 medicines in development globally waiting for their chance to benefit the lives of millions.

In Africa, however, the sense of hope that we often take for granted is far out of reach.  In fact, as the World Health Organization predicts, cancer now kills roughly 450,000 Africans a year, and by 2030, it will kill almost 1 million annually.

This week, Pfizer Inc. and Cipla Inc. announced a game-changing partnership with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to expand access to sixteen essential oncology treatments, including chemotherapies, to help battle this epidemic in Africa. As the New York Times explains:
“In a remarkable initiative modeled on the campaign against AIDS in Africa, two major pharmaceutical companies, working with the American Cancer Society, will steeply discount the prices of cancer medicines in Africa.

“Under the new agreement, the companies — Pfizer, based in New York, and Cipla, based in Mumbai — have promised to charge rock-bottom prices for 16 common chemotherapy drugs. The deal, initially offered to a half-dozen countries, is expected to bring lifesaving treatment to tens of thousands who would otherwise die.

“Pfizer said its prices would be just above its own manufacturing costs. Cipla said it would sell some pills for 50 cents and some infusions for $10, a fraction of what they cost in wealthy countries.”

And let’s not forget -- this is not the first time the biopharmaceutical industry has stepped up to bat for underserved communities. As the Times points out…
“Now nearly all companies offer a combination of donations and “tiered pricing,” under which they charge poor countries a small fraction of what they charge rich ones — but impose safeguards to prevent smuggling of their products into wealthy markets.”

“John Young, president of Pfizer’s essential health group, said the price-cut deal differs from Pfizer’s charitable donations, like the 500 million antibiotics doses it provided to help eliminate the eye disease trachoma. … The company will charge enough to cover just its manufacturing and packaging costs, not those related to research, marketing or advertising, he added.

“Cipla’s prices, said Dr. Denis Broun, the company’s head of governmental affairs, will be as low as one-eighth of what it charges for generics in the United States. The company hopes to start making cancer drugs soon at its factories in Uganda and South Africa," he added.

For more, check out the full New York Times article here.