Pfizer Says Its New COVID-19 Pill Cuts 89% of Serious Illness

So it sent results directly to the FDA.
Brad Bergan
Green pills under assembly in a mass production facility.MJ_Prototype / iStock

Nothing lasts forever. Including the coronavirus.

Pfizer claims its new COVID-19 pill can reduce recipients' risk of hospitalization or death by an incredible 89%, according to a press release from the firm.

This could signal the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pfizer's new COVID-19 pill works best with ritonavir

The orally-taken medicine from Pfizer is called Paxlovid, and it's a lot like the new pill from Merck that the U.K. approved on Thursday. Pfizer claims its new pill showed positive outcomes when given to patients within the first five days of exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, according to the report. The strength of the recent trial has motivated the pharmaceutical company to halt the enrolling process of more people into subsequent clinical trials, and instead send its results as they stand directly to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in hopes of acquiring emergency use authorization. "These data suggest that our oral antiviral candidate, if approved or authorized by regulatory authorities, has the potential to save patients' lives, reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections, and eliminate up to nine out of ten hospitalizations," said Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, in the report.

The antiviral medicines from both Merck and Pfizer work by interfering with the coronavirus' ability to self-replicate. Pfizer also added that ritonavir, which is a drug used in HIV/AIDS treatment procedures, can enhance the pill's effectiveness. Ritonavir assists the new pill from Pfizer by helping protease inhibitors — including ones like the new COVID-19 pill — to remain in human bodies longer, which, in turn, makes them far more capable in a mortal fight with the virus. Both U.S. and U.K. officials have said COVID-19 pills might fundamentally transform the ongoing battle against the global pandemic, possibly even ending it. And they can be fully administered from the comfort of your own home. Notably, the Regeneron antibody cocktail has become a crucial feature of medical workers' efforts to prevent horrible ends for those who've contracted the virus, but this treatment requires either several shots or intravenous infusion.

Not so for Pfizer's new pill.

Pfizer will offer a 'tiered pricing approach' in different countries

The company also said its new drug can be prescribed to combat and reduce the severity of patients suffering from COVID-19, in addition to lowering the probability of developing an infection after being exposed to the virus. "It has demonstrated potent antiviral in vitro activity against circulating variants of concern, as well as other known coronaviruses, suggesting its potential as a therapeutic for multiple types of coronavirus infections," said the company, in its press release. "All of us at Pfizer are incredibly proud of our scientists, who designed and developed the molecule, working with the utmost urgency to help lessen the impact of this devastating disease on patients and their communities," said Chief Scientific Officer and President of Worldwide Research, Development, and Medical Mikael Dolsten of Pfizer.

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Most crucially, Pfizer aims to offer "equitable access" to its new Paxlovid pill for everyone, with an emphasis on delivering the pill as quickly as possible at an affordable price. "If our candidate is successful, during the pandemic, Pfizer will offer our investigational oral antiviral therapy through a tiered pricing approach based on the income level of each country to promote equity," read the press release. This is great news that signals the coming horizon of a post-coronavirus world.

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