The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday investigated the use of Pfizer Inc’s oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment in high-risk patients after an analysis of trial data by the UN agency showed that the therapy dramatically reduced the risk of hospitalization.
The recommendation comes because thousands of people die every week from COVID-19, despite declining global infection rates.
Of existing COVID-19 treatments, Pfizer’s Paxlovid is by far the most powerful, the WHO said.
Other therapies include Merck & Co’s rival pillmolnupiravir, Gilead Sciences intravenous inhibitor and antibody treatments.
A WHO analysis of two clinical trials of Paxlovid with almost 3,100 patients suggested that it reduced the risk of hospitalization by 85%.
In high-risk patients – those with more than 10% risk of hospitalization – using Paxlovid could lead to 84 fewer hospitalizations per 1,000 patients, the agency said.
“These therapies do not replace vaccination. They simply give us another treatment option for those patients who are at higher risk of infection,” said Janet Diaz, WHO leader on clinical management, referring to patients with underlying chronic conditions, the immunocompromised as non-vaccinated.
However, there are challenges that may limit Paxlovid’s adoption.
Given it must be taken in the early stages of the disease to be effective, access to rapid and accurate tests are imperative to identify patients.
It can also interact with many common medicines, which complicates its use.
In addition, Paxlovid has not been studied for use in pregnant women, breastfeeding women or children.
These factors have caused Paxlovid’s supply to decline in demand in countries where it has been available for some time.
Pfizer has, and continues to do so, make agreements to sell the treatment in a number of countries, but pricing details remain largely confidential.
Earlier this year, the company said it expected Paxlovid to bring in $ 22 billion in sales by 2022.
The US drugmaker has agreed to sell up to 4 million treatment courses to UNICEF for use in 95 low-income countries that make up just over half of the world’s population.
This deal accounts for just over 3% of Pfizer’s projected production of 120 million courses this year.
More than 30 generic drug manufacturers have also been allowed to produce cheaper versions of the drug for sale in 95 countries, but these copycat versions from quality-assured sources are unlikely to be ready in the short term, the WHO said, noting the lack of price transparency could mean that low- and middle-income countries will be pushed to the bottom of the queue, as happened with COVID vaccines.
Separately, the WHO also updated its recommendation on Gilead’s inhibitor, saying that it should be used in mild to moderate COVID-19 patients at high risk of hospitalization.
It had previously been recommended for use in all COVID-19 patients, despite the severity of the disease.
WHO supports Pfizer oral COVID therapy for high-risk patients – SABC News
Source link WHO supports Pfizer oral COVID therapy for high-risk patients – SABC News