India-based Hetero's Paxlovid generic gets WHO backing

The WHO logo is pictured in Geneva
The World Health Organization logo is pictured at the entrance of the WHO building, in Geneva, Switzerland, December 20, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Dec 27 (Reuters) - India's Hetero said on Tuesday that its generic version of Paxlovid, an antiviral treatment for COVID-19 developed by Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), was added to the World Health Organization's prequalification list, which serves as a benchmark for procurement of medicines by developing countries.

Hetero said it had entered into a licensing agreement with the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to manufacture and sell the generic version of the drug in low- and middle-income countries.

The treatment bundles two nirmatrelvir pills and one ritonavir pill and will be manufactured at Hetero's plants in India, where the drug has emergency use authorization from the country's drugs controller general.

The global health agency has strongly recommended the use of Pfizer's Paxlovid for treating high-risk patients with mild and moderate COVID, while expressing concerns regarding its access in low- and middle-income countries.

Reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Anil D'Silva

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