Pfizer Inc. has declared its new COVID-19 pill capable of reducing hospital and death risk by 90%.
On Friday, Pfizer Inc. said that its experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 has reduced rates of hospitalization and death by nearly 90%. This comes in the wake of the drugmaker joining the race to introduce the first easy-to-use medication against the coronavirus in the United States.
At the moment, all COVID-19 medications, including the vaccine used in the U.S., are administered through IV or injection. Competitor Merck’s COVID-19 pill has been submitted for review to the Food and Drug Administration, and it has shown initial solid results. On Thursday, the United Kingdom certified the pill “Okay” to use and thus became the first country to do so.
Pfizer has yet to submit the antiviral pill to Health Canada for regulatory approval at the time of publication. However, Merck has already submitted an application for its pill and is already undergoing review.
Pfizer said it would urge the FDA and other international regulators to pass authorization on its pill as early as possible after independent experts concluded that there was no need for further study based on how strong the results were. Once Pfizer submits its application, the FDA could have a decision within weeks or months.
Getting a pill against COVID-19 has been many researchers’ top mission over the last year. The core properties of this pill are to make it possible for patients to take it at home, ease symptoms and ensure a speedy recovery. It will also ease the burden on health facilities and medical personnel.
On Friday, preliminary results of Pfizer’s study involving 775 adults were released. Patients on the company’s drug alongside another antiviral had an 89 percent reduction in their hospitalization and death rates combined, compared to individuals taking a dummy pill. In addition, less than 1% of patients taking the drug needed to visit a hospital, and none of them died. In comparison, 7% got hospitalized, and seven died.
In the words of Pfizer’s chief scientific officer Dr Mikael Dolsten, “We were hoping to create something extraordinary, but it’s uncommon to find great drugs that perform so well with nearly 90% efficacy and 100% protection against death.
Pfizer’s drug comes from a family of antiviral drugs called protease inhibitors, which have existed for decades. These drugs revolutionized the treatment of HIV and hepatitis C by blocking an essential enzyme in the body that viruses need to multiply in the human body.
The drug, unnamed, was first identified in 2003 during the SARS outbreak in Asia. Last year, company researchers’ picked it up again for further studies for COVID-19 due to the similarities between the two coronaviruses.
The United States has approved another antiviral drug for COVID-19 called remdesivir while authorizing three antibody therapies that help the immune system fight the virus. The only difference between these and the new drug is that they have to be administered via IV or injections at medical facilities.