“You can’t stop the flow of our drugs to Russia”: Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer

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Pfizer (PFE) has announced it is stopping new clinical trials in Russia and donating Russia’s revenue to the Ukrainian cause, joining other big pharma companies.

“Today, we are announcing that effective immediately, Pfizer will donate all profits from our Russian subsidiary to causes that provide direct humanitarian support to the people of Ukraine,” a company statement read.

“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 on Monday.

Sanctions against Russia do not include drugs, although economic sanctions may cause delivery problems.

“We cannot stop the flow of our drugs to Russia,” Bourla said. “Always with sanctions, drugs are excluded,” he added, citing economic sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

“Closing the delivery of drugs, including cancer or cardiovascular therapies, would result in significant patient suffering and potential loss of life, particularly in children and the elderly,” the company noted.

KHARKIV, UKRAINE – MARCH 13: Ileana watches her 29-year-old son Sergei, a volunteer who was shot and lies in a hospital in Kharkov, Ukraine on March 13, 2022 as Russian attacks continue. (Photo by Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Although the company will not begin new trials, the current ones will continue. And patients who were already enrolled will continue to take medication, Bourla said.

The company will work with the FDA and other regulators to transfer ongoing clinical trials to sites outside of Russia, Pfizer said.

Continuing to provide medical care despite sanctions is required by international humanitarian law and supported by the United Nations. The issue has become a hot one as Russia continues to destroy hospitals and target areas close to refugees.

Bourla noted that the sanctions will wreak havoc not only on Vladimir Putin but also on Russia itself. “The sanctions were designed to exert pressure (on) the regime. Unfortunately, the pressure will be felt by all other Russians,” Bourla said.

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