Pfizer Covid drug still has not reached Estonia

Planned supplies of an anti-Covid drug have still not arrived in Estonia, despite authorities' earlier hopes that the drug, procured jointly at European Union level and primarily designated for at-risk groups, would be in-country by the end of summer.

Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) Sander Rajamäe, said of the drug, known as Paxlovid, that: "We are continuing to deal with the issue, but the situation regarding the procurement of Paxlovid is the same as it has been for the last few months."

"Agreements satisfactory to the states involved have not been reached, since the EU does not want uncertain contracts for member states, and therefore today it is difficult to predict when the drugs will reach Estonia," Rajamäe continued.

"When organizing collective EU procurements, the European Commission can set the participating countries a condition that parallel to participating in the collective procurement, countries cannot negotiate with producers who wish to purchase directly. This reduces the risk that producers in negotiations with the European Commission will find themselves in a situation whereby free market demand will affect what the producer offers in the collective procurement the unit price, the terms of delivery or the terms concerning the parties' responsibilities," he went on.

"These are, for example, high prices or a situation where minimum quantities have been set for the order, which the buyer cannot realize to cover the needs of his market. This means that by combining the procurement needs of the participants in EU joint procurements, it is possible to achieve both a reduction of the unit price and a fixation of the quantity needed by the state through the effect of scale," said Rajamäe.

The first consignments should have arrived in Estonia in the third quarter of this year, ie. July to September, but negotiations between the commission and Pfizer have still not made a breakthrough, while unilateral, rather than collective procurement, would incur too many risks as noted.

Paxlovid is a prescription medicine that would be sold in pharmacies especially to patients in Covid risk groups, which might also lead to fewer options on the part of the state to put in place Covid restrictions as were the case 2020-2021, as it would become less clear if the virus was seasonal or not.

Ott Lauis Deputy Director General of the Medicines Agency (Raviamet), told ERR in September that Paxlovid's arrival in Estonia was not the sole factor in the determining of Covid's status – other factors such as its propensity to cause illness which would lead to hospital treatment would also need to be taken into account.

The European Commission has also been in negotiations on the Lagevrio drug, made by Merck.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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