Pfizer pledges to pull out of Russian manufacturing pacts

Pfizer says it is ceasing all future investment to build manufacturing capacity in Russia due to Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine.

Putin’s universally criticized invasion of Ukraine has sent shockwaves across the world, with the pharma industry just one of many affected. Clinical trials have been disrupted, and the deepening conflict has driven concerns surrounding supply chains.

Big Pharma has had a mixed response regarding its presence in the area, but several companies have announced they have scaled back activities in Russia. This includes Pfizer, which laid out its strategy in March for the region. These plans were reiterated in Pfizer’s Q1 financial call yesterday.

Photo by Tong Su on Unsplash

“Pfizer stands with a unified global community in opposition to Russia’s invasion to Ukraine,” CEO Albert Bourla said. “While Pfizer is maintaining our supply of medicine to Russians, as we should, we will be donating all profits of our Russian subsidiary to causes that provide direct humanitarian support to the people of Ukraine. Additionally, we will no longer initiate new clinical trials in Russia and will stop recruiting new patients in our ongoing clinical trials in the country.

“Pfizer will work with the FDA and other regulators to transition all ongoing clinical trials to alternative sites outside Russia. And consistent with our commitment to putting patients first, we will continue providing needed medicines to the patients already enrolled in clinical trials in Russia.”

Bourla added his company is also “ceasing all future investments with local suppliers intended to build manufacturing capacity in Russia.”

From a production perspective, Pfizer does not own or operate any manufacturing sites in Russia. The country has followed a protectionist approach to drugmaking since 2010 when Putin – then prime minister – implemented a policy aimed at modernizing the country’s pharmaceutical industry and cut dependence on foreign firms.

This, in theory, discouraged international drug companies from setting up their own manufacturing facilities in the country. Instead, many firms teamed up with local manufacturers.

Pfizer itself inked a strategic partnership with Russian pharma firm NovaMedica in 2016 for the production of 30 of its essential drug products, collaborating on the construction of an aseptic manufacturing facility in the province of Kaluga. The same year, Pfizer entered into a joint production partnership with St. Petersburg-based Polysan, a local news agency reported at the time.

While Bourla did not comment on these deals, he stressed that Pfizer “will cease all planned investments with local suppliers intended to build manufacturing capacity in the country” due to the ongoing conflict.

Other Big Pharma firms with operations and production partnerships in Russia include Novartis and Novo Nordisk, which operates an insulin plant in Kaluga.

“The factory in Russia is still operating to supply medication to patients in Russia,” Novo Nordisk said in a statement last month.

Novartis, meanwhile, said it has decided to “suspend any investments in Russia and stop all commercial marketing activities.”