10 Facts About Pfizer, The Company That Could Potentially Save Us from COVID-19

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There aren’t many words or names in the English language that start with the letters “Pf”.

So, when you see a name like “Pfizer”, it’ll probably stick with you for quite a while.

The American multinational pharmaceutical company recently grabbed the headlines for developing a Covid-19 vaccine that could potentially be available this year.

The news sent US stocks to record highs and gave people around the world something they haven’t had much of in 2020: hope.

Those of us outside the US may not know a thing about the company, however.

So, here are 10 facts about Pfizer, the company that may just save us from Covid-19.

It Started in the 1800s with Money Borrowed From the CEO’s Father

In 1849, cousins Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart started Pfizer with $2,500 that Pfizer borrowed from his father.

Then, they used the loan to open a chemicals business under the name of Charles Pfizer & Company, and opened a modest building in New York which served as their laboratory, factory, warehouse, and office.

Pfizer’s headquarters is still based in New York City.

Its First Product Was a Tasty Antiparasitic Drug

Medicines aren’t usually noted for their deliciousness, more so for their treatment of illnesses.

But when Pfizer formulated its first product in 1849, an antiparasitic drug used to treat intestinal worms, they ensured it tasted good.

Pfizer, a chemist, teamed up with Erhart, who was a confectioner, to blend the drug santonin with an almond-toffee flavoring, and even shaped it into a candy cone.

Their First Top-selling Product Was… Citric Acid

You’d think that a pharmaceutical company would be famous for a drug or vaccine, but Pfizer’s first top-selling product was citric acid.

In 1880, Pfizer began manufacturing citric acid using concentrates of lime and lemon, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. 

As soft drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi – which used citric acid – became more popular, demand for citric acid grew.

Consequently, it became Pfizer’s main product and initiated the company’s growth.


It Was Instrumental in Saving Lives During Both World Wars

In the first World War, Pfizer manufactured antibiotics such as iodine, disinfectants, and pain killers such as morphine and chloroform, according to Money Inc. 

They even made preservatives that reduced the amount of bacteria that formed when food was transported around the world.

These drugs are common now, but this wasn’t the case a century ago.

Though the company’s main product leading up to the war was citric acid, they decided to start manufacturing penicillin, one of the world’s first antibiotics.

As it was the only company that was using fermentation technology, this allowed Pfizer to produce penicillin in mass quantities.

As such, Pfizer made most of the penicillin given to the Allied forces that stormed Normandy on D-Day during World War II.


One of Its Most Popular Products, Viagra, Has Been Used to Help Infants

As some of you may know, Viagra is a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction.

Released in 1998, it was one of Pfizer’s most popular drugs. But it wasn’t just used by those who had difficulties in the bedroom.

Believe it or not, the impotence drug has been used as a treatment for premature babies with chronic lung disease or who have cardiac problems and suffer from pulmonary hypertension, which can be life-threatening.

Viagra helps to open up the arteries in these children’s lungs, allowing blood to flow in more easily.

It also helps lower their high blood pressure, and increases oxygen flow to their lungs.


Its Best-selling Product is a Vaccine that Immunises Children & the Elderly

Viagra is rather popular, but Pfizer’s best-selling product is the Prevnar drug, which is a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

This vaccine is typically used for children younger than 2 years old and adults 65 years or older.

It prevents Pneumococcal disease, which can lead to meningitis, an inflammation of membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.

It Was Once Guilty of Stealing Drug Secrets

Pfizer is no stranger to controversy, as it’s been involved in several lawsuits.

In 2004, Nonprofit Ischemia Research and Education Foundation filed a lawsuit against Pfizer for stealing drug secrets to develop a pain relief drug.


The lawsuit alleged that Pfizer arranged a deal with lead statistician Ping Hsu at the Ischemia Research and Education Foundation to provide data, according to Investopedia.

The lawsuit also claimed that Pfizer and Hsu destroyed evidence that could have proven they stole trade secrets and used data without approval after they were confronted.

In 2008, Pfizer was ordered to pay $38 million to the nonprofit organisation, reported Associated Press.

It’s The World’s Largest Drugmaker

Even though Johnson & Johnson has the highest market capitalisation, Pfizer is the world’s largest drugmaker, ranking No. 1 in the world for prescription drug sales.

While some predict Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, will take their place in 2022, Pfizer may be able to retain their number one spot thanks to a Covid-19 vaccine.


It’s Been Testing Four Different Covid-19 Vaccines

In May 2020, Pfizer began testing four different coronavirus vaccine variations to aid the global fight against the pandemic.

Just two months later, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced that two of their four vaccine candidates had won fast track designation from the Food and Drug Administration.

The company began Phase 3 testing in the last week of July 2020.

It Could Be the First Company to Deliver Safe Covid-19 Vaccines Worldwide

On Monday (9 Nov), Pfizer and BioNTech injected hope into a depressed world by announcing that one of their vaccines has been found to be more than 90% effective.

The news sent stock markets soaring, as the companies claimed the vaccine could be available this year.


Thus far, only 94 participants out of nearly 44,000 in their clinical trial have gotten sick with Covid-19.

In the study, volunteers were either given the real vaccine or a dummy shot. They didn’t know which they were given.

A week after their second required dose, Pfizer began counting those who developed coronavirus symptoms and were confirmed to have Covid-19.

At the moment, it seems that nearly all the infections counted so far had to have occurred in people who received the dummy shots.

However, the study has not ended, and it’s too early to say how many in each group have been infected.


Still, this is really good news. As the New York Times pointed out, the FDA requires at least 50% efficacy for drugmakers who intend to submit their vaccines for emergency authorisation.

To further illustrate how effective these vaccines are, the flu vaccines that we regularly receive are only 40 to 60% effective, because the influenza virus is constantly mutating.

Moreover, the companies have reported no serious safety concerns from their vaccine.

Pfizer said it will apply for emergency authorisation in the third week of November, and if approved, could have 30 to 40 million doses of the vaccine before the end of the year.

Before it can make its way to the general public, however, it will likely be administered to high-risk populations first.


If everything goes as planned, this vaccine might just be the first step to ending the Covid-19 pandemic.

Featured Image: Ascannio / Shutterstock.com

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