The U.S. government will purchase 10 million Pfizer pills that will help mitigate the symptoms of COVID-19 and potentially prevent hospitalization.
Pfizer announced Thursday it had signed an agreement with the United States to supply 10 million treatments of its COVID antiviral pill, Paxlovid, in exchange for $5 billion, once the Food and Drug Administration has approved the antiviral treatment.
"We were thrilled with the recent results of our [testing]," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a press release, "which showed overwhelming efficacy of Paxlovid in reducing the risk of hospitalization among high-risk patients treated within three days of symptom onset by almost 90% and with no deaths, and are pleased the U.S. government recognizes this potential."
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Delivery of the pills is set to begin at the end of this year, according to a statement from the White House.
"This is positive news. This treatment could prove to be another critical tool in our arsenal that will accelerate our path out of the pandemic," President Joe Biden said. "But vaccines remain our strongest tool. With the authorization of vaccines for children aged 5 – 11 years old, 95% of Americans are now eligible to be vaccinated. My message continues to be: get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe, free, and easily available. Don't wait. Get vaccinated today."
Pfizer submitted data to the FDA Tuesday, requesting emergency authorization for the pill. The current price for the treatment is estimated to be $529 per course, according to the New York Post.
On Tuesday, Pfizer signed an agreement with the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool to allow medicine companies in 95 countries worldwide to produce generic versions of Paxlovid at a lower cost, providing an easily acquirable solution to COVID-19 without needing a vaccine in low-income parts of the world.
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Paxlovid mixes Pfizer's antiviral with a low dose of ritonavir, an antiretroviral medication traditionally used to treat HIV. According to Pfizer's tests to date, the pill reduces the risk of COVID-19 related hospitalization or death by 89% if taken within three days of symptom onset.
The FDA is also considering a similar pill provided by Merck, which applied for emergency approval in October.