December 8, 2022

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Finally, a treatment for Covid-19! Paxlovid from Pfizer and Molnupiravir from Merck

Image Courtesy: India Today

Vaccines have been the key antidote in the fight against Covid-19 thus far, but we may soon have at least two game-changers in the form of Pfizer's antiviral tablet

Vaccines have been the key antidote in the fight against Covid-19 thus far, but we may soon have at least two game-changers in the form of Pfizer’s antiviral tablet Paxlovid and Merck, Sharp and Dohme’s Molnupiravir and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ Molnupiravir.

Pfizer, one of the main players in the Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing race, now has an antiviral tablet to treat the virus, with over 2.5 billion doses administered.

For people at risk of severe disease, preliminary data from Pfizer’s investigational antiviral tablet to treat Covid-19 reveals an 89 percent reduction in the likelihood of hospitalisation or death.

Is Pfizer alone in the race for a pill to treat Covid?

Molnupiravir was the first oral tablet produced for the treatment of Covid-19 individuals with symptoms.

According to preliminary research, the tablet can reduce hospitalizations by half.

Paxlovid from Pfizer and Molnupiravir from Merck are both oral tablets.

Neither drug can be used to prevent the disease. Only persons who test positive for Covid-19 and have symptoms should take it.

What does clinical trial data show?

The pill reduced the chances of hospitalisation or mortality for adults by 89 percent in a clinical trial for Pfizer’s Paxlovid, which looked at 1,219 people with mild to moderate Covid-19.

Only 0.8 percent of Paxlovid patients required hospitalisation, and none died after 28 days of treatment.

Molnupiravir, made by Merck, was given to 775 patients who tested positive for Covid-19.

Only 7.3 percent of Molnupiravir patients required hospitalisation, and none had a deadly illness.

What is the regimen of the pills?

Patients diagnosed with Covid-19 must take three pills twice a day from Pfizer’s Paxlovid. Within three to five days of the commencement of infection, the pills must be taken.

Patients diagnosed with Covid-19 must take four pills of Merck’s Molnupiravir twice a day. It must be given within five days of the infection’s beginning.

What do we know about the price of these pills?

According to reports, countries all across the world are presently negotiating rates with Pfizer and Merck.

According to Reuters, a World Health Organization-led organisation is seeking to give these antiviral medications for as little as ten dollars every course.

Where do countries stand on pills to treat Covid-19?

Molnupiravir, an antiviral medication, has been approved in the United Kingdom for the first time. According to the BBC, it has agreed to buy 4,80,000 courses, with the first deliveries scheduled for November.

The United Kingdom has also placed an order for 2,50,000 Paxlovid courses from Pfizer.

According to a Reuters article, while Pfizer has yet to submit interim study data to the Food and Medication Administration (FDA), the US government has obtained millions of doses of Pfizer’s drug.

When will the pills be available in India?

Merck is partnering with Cipla, Dr. Reddy’s, Emcure, Sun, and Torrent on Molnupiravir clinical trials in India.

Pfizer is also committed to ensuring that all people in all countries have equal access to Paxlovid.

While immunizations are a preventative step in the fight against Covid-19, medicines that reduce the chance of severe infection will add to the world’s antiviral arsenal.

Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Dexamethasone, Budesonide, and other repurposed pharmaceuticals have been utilised to manage the infection up to now.

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