Letter to the editor: Distinction between 2 shots is nothing more than brand vs. generic | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: Distinction between 2 shots is nothing more than brand vs. generic

Olivia Syptak

On the topic of transparency on the Comirnaty vaccine raised by Ally Doolin in Thursday’s opinion section, the honest truth is that Comirnaty is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

As is the case with most medicines that are available to us, trade names are selected and approved for use in market and sale of drug formulations. Think Tylenol. This is the trade name under which McNeil Labs (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) markets acetaminophen for pain relief.

Food and Drug Administration approval letters are available on the FDA.gov site. The one dated Aug. 23 and addressed to Pfizer indicates approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and states that the company “may label (the) product with the proprietary name Comirnaty.” The name is derived from community (Co), mRNA (mirna) and community plus immunity (ty).

The ruling that Doolin refers to specifically states that the emergency-use authorization shot and the Comirnaty one are “legally distinct.” This is true, not to mention a great example of legal carping. The ruling acknowledges that as a “legal matter,” there is a difference; however, they are not chemically or medically different. The argument is one of labeling. If someone is keen to ensure that they get a product labeled as Comirnaty versus taking the same formulation that does not have the trade name label on it, that is up to them. This person also can opt not to buy the Kroger brand of facial tissue that is available on the shelf and instead wait for the Kleenex brand tissues to be restocked.

We are all doing the best we can in these trying times. Even under normal circumstances, it’s tough to keep track of what’s happening in the complex process of medicine evaluation and approval. So in the spirit of clarity, we can rest assured that the Comirnaty shot is, indeed, widely available in Summit County.

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