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Pfizer gets patent for pneumonia vaccine in India

Multinational drug major Pfizer Inc today said it has been granted the patent in India for its vaccine Prevenar 13, used for protection against pneumonia.

The development has, however, been decried by Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), an international medical humanitarian organisation saying granting patent on the vaccine could impact its availability.

The grant of the patent means that Indian pharmaceutical firms will not be able to make the vaccine.

“We are pleased to note that the validity of the Prevenar 13 patent has now been recognised by the Indian Patent Office,” a Pfizer spokesperson said in a statement.

This vaccine was launched in India in 2010. In its multi-dose vial presentation, this vaccine has been included in the expansion of Indias public immunisation program in select states under the GAVI funded platform, it added.

Criticising the grant of patent to Pfizer, MSF Asia Regional Coordinator Prince Mathew said: “It is unfair and unacceptable that almost a million children die each year from pneumonia, even though a life-saving vaccine is available.”

Stating that the development would hit access to the vaccine, he said children everywhere have a right to be protected from pneumonia, but many governments cannot afford the prices set by Pfizer.

Pfizer, however, said it remained committed towards further enhancing access of this vaccine in India, both in the market as well as through a partnership with the Government to expand introduction in the public program.

“Prevenar 13 provides the broadest serotype coverage of any pneumococcal conjugate vaccine available in the world today,” the company spokesperson said.

MSF said it had challenged Pfizer’s “unmerited patent claims” in India after the same patent was revoked by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2016.

“The patent is also being legally challenged in South Korea and before the US Patent Trademark Appeal Board,” MSF said.

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