Biden administration purchase 10M courses of Pfizer’s Covid treatment pill in $5 billion deal

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President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the United States has purchased 10 million courses of Pfizer’s Covid treatment tablet, an oral antiviral medicine that was shown in a clinical trial to be very successful in reducing hospitalisation among high-risk patients.

Paxlovid, the tablet, has the potential to revolutionise the fight against the virus by giving doctors a medicine that patients can take at home after infection. A extremely efficient at-home medication could help hospitals cope with the burden they’ve been under during the epidemic, especially during the recent surge of delta infections.

In a statement, Biden said, “My administration is making the necessary preparations now to ensure these treatments will be easily accessible and free.” “This is positive news. This treatment could prove to be another critical tool in our arsenal that will accelerate our path out of the pandemic.”

The medicines will be delivered starting at the end of this year and will last until 2022, according to Biden.

Pfizer announced on Thursday that it would get $5.29 billion from the US government, subject to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the tablet.

Pfizer submitted an application to the FDA on Tuesday seeking emergency approval for the tablet. Paxlovid is used in conjunction with ritonavir, a widely prescribed HIV medication.

According to Pfizer, Paxlovid showed 89 percent efficacy in reducing hospitalisation and mortality in persons aged 18 and over who were more prone to getting severe Covid when given within three days of symptom onset.

Paxlovid inhibits the action of an enzyme required for virus replication. The HIV medicine ritonavir slows the patient’s metabolism, allowing the drug to stay in the bloodstream for longer and combat the virus at a higher concentration.

Physicians have limited treatment options for Covid patients. Remdesivir, a Gilead antiviral medicine, is primarily used to treat patients who have already been admitted to the hospital, as monoclonal antibody treatments are costly.

Paxlovid appears to be promising, but supplies are likely to be limited. Pfizer has stated that it will begin producing 180,000 courses next month and will increase production to 50 million by the end of 2022.

This week, Pfizer agreed to allow generic drugmakers to develop the medication and supply it to 95 low- and middle-income nations. The pharma business is waiving royalties for low-income countries and will do so for all other countries covered by the agreement as long as Covid is classified as an international health emergency by the World Health Organization.