Covid drug joint tender mired, direct purchase conditions draconian

Estonia has been waiting for Pfizer's Paxlovid coronavirus medicine to be procured as part of a joint European Union tender for around a year, while negotiations are still ongoing and direct purchases subject to strict conditions.

Paxlovid is aimed at risk-group patients who have a high likelihood of developing a severe case of Covid and requiring hospitalization. Estonia agreed to be part of the EU joint render in November last.

But the contract got stuck due to differences between the European Commission and pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer soon after the Member States approved it.

"There has been some progress, while it remains very difficult to predict when the drugs might hit pharmacies," said Sander Rajamäe, press representative for the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.

The fund has proposed buying the drugs using a separate public procurement to Pfizer's Estonian representative, while the joint tender remains the cheaper option.

"Pfizer has not been interested in participating or has proposed unacceptable conditions so far. For example, one such condition has been the drugs' shelf life (six months), but we cannot seriously consider buying medicines with such a short storage time in the conditions of an unpredictable market. It would also be difficult to ensure price confidentiality, which is another one of the manufacturer's requirements" Rajamäe explained.

That is why the Health Insurance Fund continues to bet on the EU joint tender materializing. "We are receiving signals from the Commission that progress is being made, and we hope a solution is soon reached," the fund's spokesperson said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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