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Pfizer: Our Covid pill with HIV drug cut hospitalization, death by 89 percent

It is currently the second antiviral medication, after Merck’s, to exhibit significant efficacy in treating Covid

Albert Bourla Pfizer CEO
Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO

Pfizer announced Friday that clinical trials of its experimental Covid-19 pill when combined with a widely-used HIV treatment, ritonavir, reduce the risk of hospitalization or death in high-risk patients exposed to the virus by 89 percent.

In the company statement, Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s CEO called the drug a potential “game-changer.”

“These data suggest that our oral antiviral candidate if approved 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,” Bourla said.

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It is currently the second antiviral medication, after Merck’s, to exhibit significant efficacy in treating Covid at the onset of sickness. The treatments from Pfizer and Merck can be taken orally. If approved by FDA, it would almost certainly represent a turning point in the continuing worldwide pandemic war. Merck’s antiviral tablet was approved by the British drugs authority on Thursday.

Pfizer disclosed its data in a press release and it did not publish the clinical trial’s complete results.

According to CNBC, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla stated that the company intends to submit its data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before Thanksgiving.
“I believe this treatment has the potential to transform the way things are done right now, thereby saving millions and millions of lives,” Bourla said in an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” He stated that the company currently has a “capacity of 500 million pills,” which corresponds to 50 million treatments. “The extremely high efficacy astounds even us; it much beyond our most fanciful aspirations.”

The HIV medication aids in the slowing of Pfizer’s pill’s metabolism, allowing it to remain active in the body for longer periods of time at higher concentrations, the company claimed.

The company stated that the drug’s statistics are based on a mid-to-late stage research of 1,219 people who had at least one underlying medical condition and a laboratory-confirmed infection within a five-day period. Additionally, participants received a low dose of ritonavir, a medicine routinely used in combination HIV therapies.

According to Pfizer, there were six hospitalizations and no deaths among the 607 study participants who took the pill in combination with an HIV medication within five days of symptom onset. This compares to 41 hospitalizations and ten deaths among 612 placebo recipients.

“These statistics indicate that, if approved by regulatory authorities, our oral antiviral candidate has the potential to save patients’ lives, significantly reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections, and avoid up to nine out of ten hospitalizations,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

While immunizations remain the best source of protection against the virus, health officials believe that pills like these may help prevent the disease from advancing in individuals who are sick and avoid hospitalization.

Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced on Oct. 1 that they have created a medication that, when used alone, significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization or mortality in patients with mild or moderate Covid.



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