Pfizer Gets Patent For Pneumonia Vaccine From Indian Patent Office
Indian patent office grants Pfizer a patent for their pneumonia vaccine Prevnar 13. Though Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF), a non-profit health group had filed the patent opposition to prevent Pfizer from getting its pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV 13) patented.
PVC 13 patented by Pfizer
- Indian grants Pfizer a patent for their pneumonia vaccine PVC 13
- The PCV 13 protects the vaccinated against 13 types of pneumococcal virus
- Patent may prevent vaccine from reaching a good chunk of the population
Indian patent office grants Pfizer a patent for their pneumonia vaccine Prevnar 13. Though MSF, a non-profit health group had filed the patent opposition to prevent Pfizer from getting its pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV 13) patented. The approval has come almost a decade after the Wyeth, a subsidiary of Pfizer, applied for the patent. MSF had warned that granting this patent would block other manufacturers from providing the vaccine to people at affordable prices.
The PCV 13 is capable of protecting the vaccinated against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria. The head of South Asian MSF access campaign Leena Meghaney said, "The method Pfizer is trying to patent is too obvious to deserve a patent under Indian law, and is just a way to guarantee an extended market monopoly for the corporation for many years to come."
India has faced the maximum number of deaths in children due to pneumonia and diarrhoea. A report by UNICEF said that over 300000 children died in 2013 due to these two diseases.
"We are pleased to note that the validity of the Prevnar 13 patent has now been recognized by the Indian Patent Office. Prevnar 13 provides the broadest serotype coverage of any pneumococcal conjugate vaccine available in the world today," says a Pfizer official.
The pneumonia vaccine from Pfizer is introduced as a part of India's Universal Immunization Program, supported by GAVI (vaccine alliance). Three doses are given for vaccination, at $3 per dose or $9 for full course, the prices are quite high. Due to this, the government had to limit roll-outs of PVC vaccine in just 3 states namely, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. An affordably priced vaccine is important for increased reach given the high number of deaths this disease is causing.
"In its multi-dose vial presentation, this vaccine has been included in the expansion of India's public immunization programme in select states under the GAVI-funded platform. Supported by extensive clinical research and real-world experience, each dose of PCV-13 requires 400 different raw materials, 580 manufacturing steps, 678 quality tests and two and a half years to produce. Pfizer remains committed towards further enhancing access of this vaccine in India, both in the market as well as through partnership with the Government to expand introduction in the public program," Pfizer spokesperson informed.
With the situation in view, Meghaney added, "The Indian patent office's decision also has broader implications, as it indicates a weakening of India's strict patentability standards, which results in granting monopolies for minor and trivial improvements of existing medical products, as allowed in some other countries. Such ever-greening practices will hamper India's role as 'pharmacy of the developing world', supplying governments and procurers like MSF with affordable medicines and vaccines."
Though Prevnar 13 is availed at affordable discounted prices by GAVI, this patent may prevent the vaccine from reaching a good chunk of the population according to MSF reports.