In addition to its vaccine, the Pfizer laboratory has developed its “anti-covid pill”, Paxlovid, a treatment that reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from the coronavirus. Already approved in several countries, this drug will certainly become an important tool in the fight against the pandemic in 2022.
Treatment to treat the sick
The aim of this drug is to treat patients already infected with the coronavirus, where the vaccine prevents the body from getting sick and developing severe forms of Covid-19. Until then, there was no specific treatment for the disease: infected people who had symptoms could take different treatments to alleviate them, such as paracetamol, or in more serious cases and in hospital, cortisone, anti-inflammatory drugs or oxygen.
Paxlovid is therefore a specific treatment for people already infected with the coronavirus and symptomatic. It is made up of two active substances: PF-07321332, a molecule designed to block the activity of an enzyme that the coronavirus needs to replicate; and ritonavir, which slows the breakdown of PF-07321332 so that it stays active longer in the body to fight the virus.
According to the results of studies, carried out in non-hospitalized adult patients with Covid-19, who are at high risk of progressing to serious illness, the risk of hospitalization and death related to the disease has decreased by 89%. in those treated with this medicine within three days of symptom onset.
In clinical trials, which involved more than 2,000 patients with Covid-19, no deaths were recorded by patients who were treated with Paxlovid, Pfizer said. The pharmaceutical company also indicated that its product should remain effective against the Omicron variant.
The advantage of Paxlovid is that it can be taken directly at home with a glass of water, once prescribed by a doctor. The two molecules of the treatment are presented as separate tablets, packaged together and which must be taken simultaneously.
Patients should therefore take three tablets twice a day for five days. Paxlovid is most effective if treatment is administered soon after the onset of symptoms, no more than five days, and preferably within 72 hours.
However, this drug is not recommended by the United States Medicines Agency (FDA) during pregnancy and in women at risk of becoming pregnant. Breast-feeding should also be stopped while taking the treatment. It may also be not recommended for people who are already on other drug treatments. The advice of a doctor is therefore imperative.
Treatment already authorized in several countries
Pfizer received marketing authorization for Paxlovid in the United States on December 22 from the FDA. The White House welcomed this authorization, and said it wanted to procure 250,000 treatments by January 2022, and 10 million in total. Another drug of this type, developed by the Merck laboratory, has also been authorized in the United States.
Israel also approved the use of Paxlovid, and received its first order for treatments last week. The UK also authorized this new drug on December 31 for adults. UK Health Minister Sajid Javid said 2.75 million treatments have already been secured by health authorities.
Regarding Europe, Pfizer’s pill has not yet received full marketing authorization, but the European Medicines Agency approved its emergency use on December 16. An accelerated review of the treatment with a view to its marketing in Europe has therefore been launched.
When will it be available in France and at what price?
France must obviously wait until the product is authorized in the European Union before being able to obtain it. It must also be authorized by the French health authorities before being marketed. In an opinion dated December 16, the Scientific Council indicated: “The oral drug Paxlovid (Pfizer) should be effective because directed against the protease of the virus which is little modified, but this product will only be available in quantity. from mid-February 2022. “
Neither Pfizer nor the French health authorities have yet indicated at what price this drug will be sold.