Latin America Pharma Roundup: New Moderna Commercialisation Partnerships; Pfizer Criticised for Building ‘Patent Wall’; Bayer’s Digital Marketing Push


The latest from Latin American pharma, including Moderna’s push to build a regional presence and partnership network; Pfizer’s health equity challenges in the region; and Brazil’s local manufacturing of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and approval of three new cannabis-based products.


Moderna partners with Latin American Pharma

In a move to advance the commercialization of Moderna’s Covid-19 shot in Latin America, the biotech has inked a deal with a pharma native to the continent to help make and distribute its shot.

Adium Pharma will commercialize Spikevax across 18 countries in Latin America. That list includes Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina. The company will look to add up to 100 people to its team as well.


Public Citizen accuses Pfizer of building ‘patent wall’ for Covid treatment; warns that “most of Latin America, may endure supply shortages and unaffordable prices”

The consumer advocacy nonprofit issued a statement Friday claiming the Big Pharma is building a patent wall by filing or intending to file patent applications in 61 countries, as well as four regional patent offices, for nirmatrelvir, a key component in Pfizer’s Covid-19 treatment Paxlovid.

The Medicines Patent Pool and Pfizer struck an agreement to qualify generic manufacturers in 95 countries, many of which are classified as low- or lower-middle-income, to produce generic versions of Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral. But Public Citizen said the deal left out much of the world. Director Burcu Kilic said, in a call with Endpoints News Friday, that the agreement was largely a public relations move by the Big Pharma.

“Many countries, including most of Latin America, may endure supply shortages and unaffordable prices,” Public Citizen said in the letter. “Now, health advocates will work together to take down Pfizer’s patent wall brick by brick to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to COVID treatments.”


GSK/Medicago’s plant-based Covid-19 vaccine shows 71% efficacy in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil trials

Quebec-based Medicago and GlaxoSmithKline said Thursday that Health Canada approved its plant-based Covid-19 vaccine.

The vaccine showed 71% efficacy in a late-stage trial against all variants of SARS-CoV-2 among more than 24,000 adults in Canada, the US, UK, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. In October 2020, the company reached an agreement with Canada to supply up to 76 million doses of its vaccine, and Medicago also received $173 million in funding support from the Government of Canada for its vaccine R&D.


Brazil to manufacture AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria at home

Thanks to a technology transfer to a prominent Latin American science institution, Brazil is now able to manufacture the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine domestically.

The jabs were produced in a new vaccine production facility run by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and the Immunobiological Technology Institute (Instituto de Tecnologia em Imunobiológicos, or Bio-Manguinhos). The new lab expects to produce 120 million Covid-19 doses by the middle of 2022.

Overall, Brazil has emerged as a regional leader in vaccine production. Bio-Manguinhos is also one of the two institutes in Latin America producing mRNA vaccines under a technology-transfer agreement with the World Health Organization and partners.


Gilead names new general manager in Mexico; Merck does, too, in Chile

Gilead summoned Jessica Jirash and appointed her as general manager of its Mexican arm, taking the place of Erik Musalem who assumed an international role.

Jirash arrived at the multi this February after having closed a cycle of more than a decade in the German Merck. His last position there had been as managing director of the Chilean headquarters of the company, where he was replaced by Juan Cruz Álvarez García.


Bayer transitions to digital marketing with QR codes in Latin America

Daniella Foster, Global Vice President and Head of Public Affairs, Science and Sustainability for Bayer’s Consumer Health division: “A program was implemented to transition to digital marketing and reduce the footprint of the division’s printed promotional materials.”

Bayer has worked on prioritizing digital marketing for years, which Foster explains “makes sense from both a sustainability standpoint and reaching the consumer where they are. For instance, in some of our Latin American markets at Bayer, the government-approved use of leveraging QR codes helps educate users on a range of health topics. Consumers are getting much more comfortable with QR codes thanks to restaurants and stores incorporating them during the pandemic. Instead of printing brochures or other materials, we can create much more dynamic and sustainable content to help people take better care of themselves.”


Colombia: Astellas opens new offices; Bogota’s government secures USD 253 million loan to improve hospital services

Astellas: With the inauguration, the company aims to address post-pandemic needs, welcoming the return of in person activities. Astellas Colombia is led by Luis Hernández Mendoza who has occupied that role since the end of 2020, when it took the place of Sandra Cifuentes, who was designated as a Lead Area for the region called New Latam.

Bogota’s loan: The funds will strengthen the infrastructure and endowment of the public health sector in the Colombian capital. The loan thus supports the response of the Bogotá administration to the pandemic through the purchase of ambulances, personal protective equipment for COVID-19 and the updating of information systems that will strengthen the city’s hospital infrastructure.


Brazil drug regulator approves three cannabis-based products

Brazil’s national drug regulator Anvisa recently approved three cannabis-based products. Anvisa’s rules allow cannabis-based products to be sold in Brazil provided they have been authorized by the agency.

These substances, Anvisa declared, are products, not medicines, as the latter would require clinical trials to prove effectiveness. Thus far, Anvisa stated, scientific research has not yet developed methods to assess enough evidence and data for such products to be considered medication. In all, 14 cannabis-based drugs have been granted authorization in Brazil.

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