Paxlovid joins a coronavirus treatment drug from Merck, molnupiravir, in the federal review category. Regulators are presently assessing molnupiravir for emergency authorization. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Pharma company Pfizer announced on Friday that its experimental, antiviral COVID-19 treatment pill Paxlovid showed during testing that it's almost 90% effective in preventing hospitalization and death in high-risk patients.
The company said when combined with a low dose of ritonavir and taken within five days of the onset of symptoms, it cut severe illness and death attributed to the coronavirus by 89%.
"Today's news is a real game-changer in the global efforts to halt the devastation of this pandemic," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla 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 9 out of 10 hospitalizations."
Pfizer said it's now requesting emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, which would allow it to be distributed nationwide. If authorized, Pfizer's would be the first COVID-19 treatment tablet on the market.
Paxlovid joins a coronavirus treatment drug from Merck, molnupiravir, in the federal review category. Regulators are presently assessing molnupiravir for emergency authorization, and British regulators authorized the Merck drug on Thursday. Pfizer developed the drug with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
"We have remained laser-focused on the science and fulfilling our responsibility to help healthcare systems and institutions around the world while ensuring equitable and broad access to people everywhere," Bourla added.
Pfizer said its double-blind study examined a group of non-hospitalized, high-risk adults with COVID-19. In the trial, just six of more than 600 volunteers were hospitalized after taking Paxlovid -- compared to 41 of 612 who were given a placebo.
Pfizer said no volunteer who took Paxlovid during the trial died, compared to 10 from the placebo group who did.
"All of us at Pfizer are incredibly proud of our scientists, who designed and developed this molecule, working with the utmost urgency to help lessen the impact of this devastating disease on patients and their communities," Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Mikael Dolsten said.