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Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) will build a factory in the U.S. to make low-cost, cheap generic versions of its high-cost narcolepsy drug, a move that could spark a backlash from drugmakers and drug users worried about declining access to crucial medications.
Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) will build a factory in the U.S. to make low-cost, cheap generic versions of its high-cost narcolepsy drug, a move that could spark a backlash from drugmakers and drug users worried about declining access to crucial medications.
Pfizer’s shares were down 1 percent in early trading on Tuesday.
New York-based Pfizer said the plant will produce 1,000 vials of the medication, known as the antibiotic naloxone, to allow less affluent countries to import the cheaper versions.
The announcement marks the first commercial use by Pfizer of a so-called innovative manufacturing strategy, which allows the company to build new factories in a lower-cost country, and create new jobs in a lower-cost country.
Earlier this year, Pfizer began producing the low-cost, generic version of its Remicade drug for arthritis.
Pfizer also said it would meet with local authorities to discuss the possibility of supplying the drug to local pharmacies or healthcare providers.
The move could spark a backlash from drugmakers and drug users worried about declining access to crucial medications.
The drug, administered by injection, has been approved in 160 countries, including its core markets.
Pfizer said if it sold naloxone in bulk, it could save up to $50 million in salaries of ex-patients once they return to work.
The drug’s generic use means access to naloxone could improve in developing countries, but experts warned that access to cheaper versions could put pressure on state and public health systems at a time when spending on medicines is accelerating, imperiling the development of new medicines.
“The bottom line is this is a great thing for affordable medicine but I’m very concerned that people may use this as a way to access limited supplies of pharmaceuticals,” said Stacy Cohn, a policy analyst at the advocacy group Access Now.
Drug makers that sell generic versions of high-cost drugs depend on international patents and bans on cheaper generics to defend their profit margins.