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Pfizer’s antiviral pill reduces severe COVID-19 by 89% in high-risk adults, company to seek FDA nod

The experimental antiviral pill for Covid-19 results appears to surpass those seen with Merck & Co Inc's pill, Molnupiravir, which was shown last month to halve the likelihood of dying or being hospitalized for Covid-19 patients also at high risk of serious illness.

Pfizer antiviral pill cuts severe COVID-19 by 89% in high-risk adults, company to seek FDA nod-dnm
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New York, First Published Nov 5, 2021, 8:50 PM IST
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Pfizer Inc on Friday said that its experimental antiviral pill for Covid-19 cut rates of hospitalization and death by nearly 90 per cent in adults at high risk of developing severe disease. The company’s results show that the drugmaker joins the race to bring the first easy-to-use medication against the coronavirus to the US market.

It also appears to surpass those seen with Merck & Co Inc's pill, Molnupiravir, which was shown last month to halve the likelihood of dying or being hospitalized for Covid-19 patients also at high risk of serious illness. The Covid pill is already under review at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after showing strong initial results, and on Thursday the United Kingdom became the first country to approve it.

Pfizer said it will seek the FDA and international regulators’ nod to authorize its pill as soon as possible, after independent experts recommended halting the company's study based on the strength of its results. Once Pfizer applies, the FDA could make a decision within weeks or months. If authorized, the company would sell the drug under the brand name Paxlovid, Associated Press reported. That filing is expected to be submitted before Thanksgiving, Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said in an interview with CNBC.

Also read: 'Grave concern': WHO warns of rising pace of COVID transmission in Europe

The combination treatment, which will have the brand name Paxlovid, consists of three pills given twice daily.

Meanwhile, Pfizer shares surged 11% to $48.55, while those of Merck fell 8.5% to $82.80. Shares of vaccine makers also took a hit, with Moderna Inc, Pfizer's German partner BioNTech SE and Novavax all down nearly 7%, Reuters reported.

Pfizer released preliminary results Friday of its study of 1,219 patients looking at hospitalizations or deaths among people diagnosed with mild to moderate Covid-19 with at least one risk factor for developing severe disease, such as obesity or older age, the report added.

“We were hoping that we had something extraordinary, but it's rare that you see great drugs come through with almost 90 per cent efficacy and 100 per cent protection for death,” said Dr Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer's chief scientific officer, in an interview.

(With inputs from agencies) 

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