Pfizer said Thursday it has reached an agreement to sell 10 million Covid-19 treatment courses to the US government for $5.3 billion, pending approval from regulators.
The pharmaceutical giant asked the US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday for emergency use authorization for its Paxlovid antiviral pill which has been shown to cut hospitalization or death by nearly 90 percent among newly-infected high risk patients treated within three days of the onset of symptoms.
“We were thrilled with the recent results of our Phase 2/3 interim analysis, which showed overwhelming efficacy of PAXLOVID …and are pleased the US government recognizes this potential,” Pfizer Chairman and CEO said Albert Bourla said in a statement.
“It is encouraging to see a growing understanding of the valuable role that oral investigational therapies may play in combatting COVID-19, and we look forward to continuing discussions with governments around the world to help ensure broad access for people everywhere.”
Pfizer will start delivering the treatments to the US government later this year and continuing through the end of 2022, the statement said.
The move comes a few weeks after Merck also approached the FDA seeking a green light for its antiviral capsule against the coronavirus.
The US government announced in June it was investing $3 billion from the American Rescue Plan to accelerate the discovery, development and manufacturing of antiviral medicines.
“This promising treatment could help accelerate our path out of this pandemic by offering another life-saving tool for people who get sick with COVID-19,” US health secretary Xavier Becerra said.
While vaccinations remain the most important step to end the pandemic, “This agreement would help ensure millions of doses of this drug would be available to the American people if it is authorized,” he said.
The US is also buying 3.1 million courses of the Merck pill, Molnupiravir.
Pfizer has also entered into advance purchase agreements with several other countries and has initiated bilateral outreach to approximately 100 countries around the world, and is committed to working on “equitable access” for the treatment at an affordable price.
It announced a deal Tuesday with the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to sub-license production for supply in 95 low- and middle-income nations covering around 53 percent of the world’s population.
Paxlovid is a combination of a new molecule, PF-07321332, and HIV antiviral ritonavir. Both belong to a class of antivirals called “protease inhibitors,” which block the action of an enzyme critical to viral replication.
A treatment course consists of one pill every 12 hours for five days. (AFP)