1 of 5 | Pfizer said last week the pill showed during testing that it's almost 90% effective in preventing hospitalization and death in high-risk coronavirus patients. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 18 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden and pharma company Pfizer announced an agreement Thursday for the drugmaker to provide the federal government with 10 million treatment courses of its COVID-19 oral antiviral pill.
The government will buy millions of courses of Pfizer's antiviral Paxlovid for $5.3 billion. The oral treatment is being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration and regulatory agencies in other countries.
The government's agreement is contingent on FDA authorization.
"My administration is making the necessary preparations now to ensure these treatments will be easily accessible and free," Biden said in a statement Thursday.
"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."
Pfizer announced last week that the pill showed during testing that it's almost 90% effective in preventing hospitalization and death in high-risk coronavirus patients. It would be one of the first at-home COVID-19 treatments to be approved by federal regulators.
"We were thrilled with the recent results of our Phase 2/3 interim analysis, 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," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.
Biden said that even if Paxlovid gets emergency authorization from the FDA, Americans should still be vaccinated against COVID-19.
"Vaccines remain our strongest tool," he said. "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."
Competitor Merck is seeking similar authorization for its antiviral treatment pill, molnupiravir.