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The company should publicly commit to human rights in relation to product development and marketing, by adopting an official human rights policy statement recognising the right to the highest attainable standard of health. The company should endeavour to integrate human rights into its strategies, policies, programmes, projects, and activities.
The company should also have a publicly available global access plan for their Covid-19 product, based on human rights standards, with measurable targets and lines of accountability.
Pfizer has pledged 2 billion doses to LMICs in 2022; through 64 direct supply agreements (more than half of which in LMICs), 40 million doses to Covax, and 240 million doses donated to 87 countries. It also states that it collaborates with Covax on supply chain capability analysis, freezer donation to support cold chain capacity through a UPS partnership, and drone-assisted deliveries to ensure that vaccines reach hard-to-reach areas. It also mentions 30 million dollars in grants to meet the needs of front line healthcare workers during the pandemic, and a targeted vaccine donation programme for vulnerable populations. Finally, Pfizer has adopted a tiered pricing strategy for its Covid-19 vaccine.
Pfizer has a detailed human rights statement on its website, which includes adherence to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
The company should constructively engage with international initiatives for the equitable distribution of vaccines and therapeutics, such as the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) or the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), and the ACT Accelerator (COVAX). The company should also publicly commit to not enforcing the exclusive rights of Covid-19 related patents, and enter into non-exclusive, transparent licensing agreements for its Covid-19 products with other companies.
Pfizer stated in their response to our questionnaire: ‘As mentioned above, experience has shown that the challenges of ensuring fair distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine are not due to the IP system, but rather to the tight vaccine supply stocks at the start of the pandemic, export controls & other barriers to trade in vaccines and supplies and restrictions on distribution infrastructure that determine country preparedness, among other factors. As such, we do not believe that relinquishing intellectual property rights will bring the world closer to fair access. It would be more likely to hinder innovation and collaboration when it is most needed.’ However, Pfizer has since signed a deal with the MPP for its antiviral treatment Paxlovid.
Pfizer does not commit to not enforcing its patent rights.
In its response to our questionnaire, Pfizer stated that “Pfizer and BioNTech’s global supply chain and manufacturing network for the COVID-19 vaccine now spans four continents and includes more than 20 manufacturing facilities, including contract manufacturing agreements that Pfizer has entered into to further accelerate access around the world. Last July, we announced a groundbreaking agreement with the Biovac Institute in South Africa to manufacture the PfizerBioNTech COVID-19 vaccine exclusively for the 55 member states that make up the African Union. And in August, Pfizer and BioNTech also announced the signing of a letter of intent with Eurofarma Laboratórios SA, a Brazilian biopharmaceutical company, to manufacture our COVID-19 vaccine for distribution in Latin America.” However, these contracts are fill-and-finish sites, which does not involve transferring the license to make the mRNA vaccine.
The company should engage in efforts to further equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines/therapeutics, by equitably distributing its supplies globally, devising fair pricing strategies, and making the active ingredient for its product available to other manufacturers. The company should also engage in full technology transfer to other manufacturers, including the necessary transfer of skills, legal components, knowledge and intellectual property. Where applicable, the company should agree to waive rights in regulatory test data, and refrain from enforcing TRIPS+ measures.
[Only applies to therapeutics]
Pfizer does not commit to full technology transfer to other companies – see C4.