Pfizer’s antiviral pill, reducing hospitalization by 89%, to be made by 35 companies (update)

Update: As stated in the second paragraph, this drug from Pfizer, Paxlovid, and Merck’s less effective antiviral, molnupiravir, have been available for emergency use since late December. They are currently available now. This article is about the fact that Paxlovid is going to be more widely available, as is clear if you read it.

Just this weekend I was in Walmart looking at the Binax Now tests and thinking about how excited I was when we first heard about the at home tests a year ago. (A few months before that there were mail-in tests, but they cost over $100 and took days to get results.) The government is now sending covid test kits (you can get two packs of four, sign up here), which is excellent. However the rapid antigen tests are not as accurate as PCR tests, especially with the newer variants. Plus BA.2 will be the dominant variant in the US soon, and we know this because it’s rapidly spreading in Europe.

In related news I’m happy to report that a prescription antiviral pill developed by Pfizer, called Paxlovid, which reduces hospitalization and death by an incredible 89%, will soon be more widely available. (I was elated about Merck’s version, molnupiravir, which was only 50% effective back then. It’s since been evaluated at just 30% effective.) Paxlovid and molnuprivar were approved for emergency use in December, 2021 in the US, but Paxlovid can be hard to find. Paxlovid is a five day course of 30 pills. A generic version will soon be manufactured by 35 different companies, meaning it should be affordable.

Thirty-five manufacturers around the world have signed on to produce the generic version of Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral treatment pill Paxlovid.

The tablet has shown the capacity to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death for high-risk adults with COVID-19 by 89%.

In November, the Food and Drug Administration granted Paxlovid emergency use authorization for use in patients age 12 or older who are at a high risk of developing severe COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions.

Production of the generic version will help citizens in 95 low and middle income counties have access to a more affordable version of the Pfizer COVID-19 treatment pill, says Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), a United Nations-backed nonprofit.

“We have established a comprehensive strategy in partnership with worldwide governments, international global health leaders and global manufacturers to help ensure access to our oral COVID-19 treatment for patients in need around the world,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer per the news release.

Production of the generic pills will “play a critical role to help ensure that people everywhere, particularly those living in the poorest parts of the world, have equitable access to an oral treatment option against COVID-19.”

[From People]

This can’t come soon enough. Like everything else we’ve seen during this pandemic, it will likely be too little too late, especially given the massive failures by government agencies at mitigating this virus. In many places in my area I’m the only person still wearing a mask. However when these become available it will hopefully mean less suffering and death. This should also free up needed hospital beds and give nurses and staff a break. It seems like there will be countless “mah freedom” people who are willing to take a prescription from Pfizer when they inevitably get covid, probably for a second or third time, but are unwilling to get a vaccination from the same company. It might be too late for them anyway, considering that it needs to be taken for mild to moderate cases as early as possible. Also, many people don’t think of themselves as “high risk” enough to need this.

I also hope that vaccines are approved soon for children under five.

Mikael Dolsten is the chief science officer at Pfizer. I was using a stock photo of a guy in a mask for image leading to the article and realized that it was misleading so that has been replaced.
Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Photos credit: Bermix Studio and Getty

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15 Responses to “Pfizer’s antiviral pill, reducing hospitalization by 89%, to be made by 35 companies (update)”

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  1. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Now THIS is exciting.

  2. Smices says:

    I’m wondering if it’ll be available by the time I head to the Netherlands for IG next month. This new variant has me edgy.

    • Jan90067 says:

      Try and get your 2nd booster 2-3 wks before your travels for optimal protection (I know everyone is different, but all I had was a bit of a sore spot for ONE DAY where I got the injection!). Get the best mask you can (N95 or KN95), keep your sanitizer and wipes handy (wipe down plane seats, trays, arms etc…hotel switches, remotes, etc). Just do the best you can do to keep yourself (and family) as safe as you can. That’s all *you* can do.

      Thank you, again CB, for the info about going to my local CVS to get my 2nd booster!! I am SO appreciative as I am traveling in another 8 days!.

  3. Jan90067 says:

    You won’t hear ANY of them screaming about not putting something in their bodies with not knowing “what’s in it!!” They will gobble these like Chocolate Hershey’s Kisses.

    This is an amazing feat. So sad we were so slow to the starting line thanks to…well …we ALL know why and WHOM is to blame for this (republiTHUGS AND journalists – looking at YOU Bob Woodward, who KNEW how contagious this was, how it was spread, and HELD THE INFO FOR HIS BOOK SALES!).

    I can only hope the next time, and we do know there *will* be a next time, politics can be kept out of it so many millions won’t have to die or live with a lingering illness for God knows how long.

  4. MoxyLady says:

    I’ve been watching China and Europe closely. Getting more and more anxious. I hope this is Available ASAP. Finally some more good covid news. (Vaccines and boosters being the first)

    • Jan90067 says:

      One “good” thing about this variant: Yesterday morning, on GMA, Dr. Fauci said it *is* MORE contagious, but it is NOT deadlier or more dangerous than the previous Omicron variant. So, *small* yay for little things!

  5. Nicegirl says:

    I’m so happy and grateful for a widely available treatment.

  6. bettyrose says:

    My aunt in her 70s texted me yesterday that she just tested positive. She’s vaxed and boosted, but you have to understand that she fully isolated for nearly two years. She has several health conditions that would have made Covid very dangerous for her, and she was very scared. But California has relaxed all the restrictions, the rates are down, and she felt safe enough to eat at a restaurant. Once. And started experiencing symptoms within a few days. I’m not overly concerned given all the evidence that fully vaxed people have mild symptoms. But point being we must be constantly vigilant. This isn’t going away for a long long time. We must stay current on our vaccinations, use our home tests as soon as we have symptoms, and be good about participating in contact tracing.

    • Jan90067 says:

      Amen! Hope your aunt’s symptoms are mild, and she’s feeling better soon! 🙏❤️

      • bettyrose says:

        Thank you! She says she’s doing about the same today, meaning no escalation in symptoms. And she has a sense of humor about how she could not have conceivably been more careful until this point.

      • Jan90067 says:

        It really does feel like a game of Russian roulette at this point. A LOT of us stayed home when we were supposed to, didn’t go out w/out masks, distanced, vaxxed/boosted on schedule… and because of those *&^%$ who refused to do the same, we don’t have this disease firmly in the rear view mirror.

        Still… all we can do is what we’ve been doing, and hope that if we *do* get it, it’s mild and w/out Long Covid symptoms!

        Wishing you all the best! {{hugs}}

    • Anne says:

      I’m also in Calif and have been very careful. Still wearing a mask to the market and only eating outside. Feel fortunate that we have that option year round (I’m in Santa Barbara) and may just eat outside for the rest of my life!

      Hope your aunt feels better soon. My very unhealthy brother in law in Texas just survived Covid. He was vaxxed and boosted and had to go to hospital. The good news that if you’re vaccinated you have a very good chance of surviving this mess.

  7. pottymouth pup says:

    Just be aware folks that there was a very high false negative rate in the home tests for Omicron and the same is expected for this sub variant (you can also get the sub variant if you had omicron) so if you want true confirmation go to have a test at a testing site and treat any illness you think might be COVID as if you have it.

    As for the vaccine for the under 5s, the issue is that the response to the lower dose of the vaccine tested in them was not robust enough which is why the manufacturers have pushed back at FDA requests they submit now (neither Pfizer nor Moderna wants to mislead parents on this and put kids at even higher risk due to a false sense of security)

  8. WiththeAmerican says:

    Thanks for the link where to find this nearby, my pharmacy has it! When I first got Covid, pre vax, the pharmacies here were all out of antivirals, which my doc had prescribed even though my flu test came back negative. (This was before Covid tests were available to the non elite).

    So grateful to have some backup support now, although like you we are vaxxed, masked still and very cautious.

  9. NotSoSocialB says:

    Sorry, a correction: I received these via USPS. It’s not two packs of four, it’s two packs of two.