Pfizer (PFE) announced it is halting new clinical trials in Russia and donating revenue from Russia to the Ukrainian cause, joining other big pharmaceutical companies.
“Today we are announcing that effective immediately Pfizer will donate all profits of our Russian subsidiary to causes that provide direct humanitarian support to the people of Ukraine,” a company statement said.
“Our medicines are medicines, not like [an] iPhone Pro, for example, or the new Mac,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told Yahoo Finance’s Julie Hyman at SXSW Monday.
Sanctions against Russia do not include medicines, though the economic penalties could provide challenges in delivery.
“We cannot stop the flow of our medicines to Russia,” Bourla said. “Always with sanctions, medicines are excluded,”he added, citing economic penalties against Iran and North Korea.
“Ending delivery of medicines, including cancer or cardiovascular therapies, would cause significant patient suffering and potential loss of life, particularly among children and elderly people,” the company noted.
Though the will company won’t start new trials, ongoing ones will continue. And patients that were already enrolled will continue to take medicines, Bourla said.
The company will work with the FDA and other regulators to transition the ongoing clinical trials to sites outside Russia, Pfizer said.
Continuing to provide medical care amid sanctions is required by international humanitarian law and supported by the United Nations. The issue has come into sharp focus as Russia continues to destroy hospitals and targets areas near refugees.
Bourla noted sanctions will take their toll not only on Vladmir Putin but also Russia itself. “The sanctions have been designed to exercise pressure (on) the regime. Unfortunately the pressure will be felt by all the other Russians,” Bourla said.