Drug company Pfizer to sell Wellbutrin on cheap basis

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Traditionally, humans have been given knock-down pill packages Pharmaceutical company Pfizer is to start selling a cheaper version of its heart drug called Wellbutrin, without subsidy. The company…

Drug company Pfizer to sell Wellbutrin on cheap basis

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Traditionally, humans have been given knock-down pill packages

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer is to start selling a cheaper version of its heart drug called Wellbutrin, without subsidy.

The company is opening a clinical trial in developing countries and will be able to knock down the cost of the drug, which is used in the treatment of depression, by 25%.

Pfizer already provides a cheaper version of the drug in generic form.

But this is the first time it has agreed to sell a ready-to-use medicine on this basis.

WHO guidelines advise that no drug can be legally sold in the world without a subsidy.

This means countries would receive benefits from using it – such as avoiding further delays in administering treatment.

Pfizer says Wellbutrin is already available on generic or ready-to-use levels for part of the price in developed countries, such as the US, Britain and other parts of Europe.

It says the move will give millions of people in some of the world’s poorest countries a “fresh start” in seeking treatment for depression.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Wellbutrin is currently administered by professional healthcare professionals

“Access to medicines has been the main theme of our recent board meeting,” said Brita Hertwig, senior vice president of Pfizer’s Global Essential Health business.

“At the same time we are deeply concerned that people living in developing countries around the world struggle to access the most modern and life-saving medicines.”

WHO says that currently, 79% of those in developing countries with mental health disorders do not have access to medications which address their condition.

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As a result, 55% of people with mental disorders end up in long-term hospital care, which costs governments $30bn (£22bn) a year.

This is caused by lack of medication or drug treatments that meet high standards of effectiveness, efficiency and safety.

‘Reverse patenting’

A World Bank study in 2017 found that when developing countries acquire drugs from cheaper, generic manufacturers, low-income countries often end up purchasing drugs that would have been developed in their own regions.

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