Biden administration buys 10 million courses of Pfizer Covid pills for $ 5 billion

This undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on November 16, 2021 shows that paxloid, Pfizer’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pill, is manufactured in Ascoli, Italy.

Pfizer | Handouts | via Reuters

President Joe Biden on Thursday said the US purchased 10 million courses of Pfizer antivirals to treat Covid, an oral antiviral drug that has been shown to be highly effective in preventing high-risk adults from being hospitalized in clinical trials.

The Paklovid pill could revolutionize the fight against the virus by providing doctors with medication that patients can take at home after infection. Highly effective home treatment can help reduce the stress hospitals face throughout the pandemic, especially during the recent wave of delta infections.

“My administration is now making the necessary preparations to ensure that these treatments are readily available and free of charge,” Biden said in a statement. “This is good news. Such treatment could prove to be another important tool in our arsenal that will accelerate our journey out of the pandemic. ”

Biden said the tablet shipments would begin later this year and continue through 2022.

On Thursday, Pfizer said it would receive $ 5.29 billion from the US government, subject to FDA approval for the pill.

Pfizer on Tuesday applied to the FDA for an emergency authorization to use the pill. Paklovid is taken in combination with the commonly used HIV drug, ritonavir.

In a clinical trial of adults aged 18 and older who were more susceptible to contracting severe Covid, Pfizer was 89% effective in preventing hospitalization and death when taken within three days of symptom onset, according to Pfizer.

Paklovid blocks the activity of an enzyme that the virus needs to replicate. The HIV drug, ritonavir, slows down the patient’s metabolism, allowing it to remain in a higher concentration in the body for a longer period to fight the virus.

Doctors have several options for treating Covid patients. Remdesivir, Gilead’s antiviral drug, is primarily used to treat patients who are already hospitalized, while monoclonal antibody treatments are expensive.

While Paxlawid is promising, supplies are likely to be limited. Pfizer said it plans to produce 180,000 meals next month and increase production to 50 million meals by the end of 2022.

This week, Pfizer agreed to allow generic drug manufacturers to manufacture the pill and ship it to 95 low- and middle-income countries. The pharmaceutical company waives royalties for low-income countries and will do the same for all other countries covered by the agreement, as long as the World Health Organization classifies Covid as an international health emergency.

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