The U.S Food and Drug Administration has given emergency authorization to Pfizer’s Covid treatment pill and could be available to patients as early as the weekend. The authorization of the covid pill, which is recommended for people at a high risk of developing severe Covid-19, has been described as a major milestone that could revolutionize the fight against the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to grant approval for distribution as soon as the drugmaker had already shipped some of the pills to the U.S to be prescribed following the FDA’s authorization.
The pill has been cleared only for patients who are aged 12 and above, possess mild to moderate Covid and are most likely to end up hospitalized or not survive. The agency said it should be prescribed as soon as possible after diagnosis and within five days of symptom onset.
The Director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Dr. Patrizia Cavazonni, commenting on the authorization stated, “Today’s authorization introduces the first treatment for COVID-19 that is in the form of a pill that is taken orally — a major step forward in the fight against this global pandemic.
This authorization provides a new tool to combat COVID-19 at a crucial time in the pandemic as new variants emerge and promises to make antiviral treatment more accessible to patients who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.” The company has said that it is ready to start delivery in the U.S. immediately after the U.S purchased 10 million courses of Pfizer’s treatment, Paxlovid, in a $5 billion deal.
The President of the United States, Joe Biden had disclosed in November that his administration is making effort towards ensuring that the treatment is free and accessible. He also stated that delivery of the treatment would commence by the New Year and all through 2022.
This development has been commended as the FDA’s authorization comes at a crucial time where hospitals across the U.S. have been repeatedly strained by a wave of Delta infections, and are now bracing for another wave of patients infected with the latest Omicron variant.
The Pfizer covid pill is the first oral antiviral drug authorized by the FDA. However, Merck, another drugmaker who also produced a covid treatment pill named, Molnupiravir, has contracted with the U.S. government to supply at least 3 million courses of its pill which is yet to be cleared by the agency, for $2.2 Billion.