Pfizer's COVID Pill Cuts Hospitalization And Death By 89 Percent

Pfizer plans to submit the data as part of its ongoing rolling submission to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency authorization as soon as possible. Image credit: Molly Woodward/Shutterstock.com

Pfizer has announced that its experimental pills to treat COVID-19 cut the risk of hospitalization or death in vulnerable adults by 89 percent. 

Named PAXLOVID, the drug is taken as an oral pill that works by blocking the activity of an enzyme (called SARS-CoV-2-3CL protease) that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 needs to replicate. The idea is to give the drug to high-risk patients infected with COVID-19 as an oral antiviral therapy to reduce the risk of them requiring hospitalization or dying. 

The latest results, announced today, come from a Phase 2/3 clinical trial that involved a randomized, double-blind study of non-hospitalized high-risk adult patients with COVID-19. After falling sick with COVID-19, participants were given the pill or placebo every 12 hours for five days. Overall, it was found that the pill reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent compared to placebo.

Due to the "overwhelming efficacy" demonstrated in the results, the pharmaceutical company now says it will halt further trials of the pill. Pfizer also plans to submit the data as part of its ongoing rolling submission to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency authorization as soon as possible.

“Today’s news is a real game-changer in the global efforts to halt the devastation of this pandemic,” Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer, said in a statement.

“These data suggest that our oral antiviral candidate, if approved or authorized 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,” adds Bourla.

The news comes the day after the UK became the first country to approve an antiviral pill for the treatment of COVID-19, a rival drug called molnupiravir developed by Ridgeback Biotherapeutic and Merck. The drug developers are currently awaiting the emergency approval of their pill in the US after filing an application to the FDA last month. Their application came off the back of promising results that showed molnupiravir cuts the risk of hospitalization or death by 50 percent.

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