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WHO backs Pfizer’s oral COVID therapy for high-risk patients

WHO backs Pfizer's oral COVID therapy for high-risk patients

The World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed the use of Pfizer Inc’s oral COVID-19 antiviral medicine in high-risk patients on Thursday after a review of trial data revealed that the therapy significantly reduced the likelihood of hospitalization.

Thousands of individuals die every week from COVID-19, despite the fact that the global infection rate is declining. According to the WHO, Pfizer’s Paxlovid is by far the most effective COVID-19 treatment.

Merck & Co’s competitor tablet molnupiravir, Gilead Sciences’ intravenous remdesivir, and antibody therapy are among the other options.

According to the WHO, Paxlovid lowered the risk of hospitalization by 85 percent in two clinical trials involving over 3,100 participants. According to the agency, Paxlovid could lead to 84 fewer hospitalizations per 1,000 patients in high-risk patients (those at a 10% or higher risk of hospitalization).

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“These treatments do not take the place of immunization. They simply provide us with another therapeutic option for those patients who do become sick and are at a higher risk of infection “Patients with underlying chronic diseases, the immunocompromised, and the unvaccinated, said Janet Diaz, WHO head-on clinical management.

However, there are some obstacles that could limit Paxlovid’s adoption. Because it is most successful when administered early in the course of the disease, having access to swift and precise diagnostics is critical for identifying individuals.

It can also interfere with a variety of common medications, making it more difficult to utilize. Paxlovid has also not been studied in pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, or children.

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In nations where Paxlovid has been accessible for some time, supply has outstripped demand due to these considerations.

Pfizer has struck partnerships to market the medicine in a variety of countries and continues to do so, but pricing information is kept under wraps.

Paxlovid is predicted to generate $22 billion in sales by 2022, according to the business. UNICEF has committed to buy up to 4 million treatment courses from the American pharmaceutical company for use in 95 low-income nations that account for little over half of the world’s population.

Pfizer expects to produce 120 million courses this year, and this deal represents just over 3% of that.

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More than 30 generic drugmakers have been given permission to produce cheaper versions of the drug for sale in the 95 countries, but these copycat versions from quality-assured sources are unlikely to be ready in the near future, according to the WHO, which also noted that a lack of pricing transparency could result in low- and middle-income countries being pushed to the back of the line, as was the case with COVID vaccines.

Separately, the WHO revised its guideline for Gilead’s remdesivir, stating that it should be administered in COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate disease who are at high risk of hospitalization.

It had previously been suggested that all COVID-19 patients, regardless of disease severity, take it.

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