US approves first Covid-19 pill for at-home use
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CAPE TOWN - In the midst of the Omicron outbreak, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised its first Covid-19 pill Paxlovid, for emergency use to treat mild-to-moderate symptoms.
In a press statement released on Wednesday, the FDA said the Pfizer pill could be used for patients aged 12 or older, with clinical data showing the drug is 90% effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths.
Paxlovid is the first at-home oral drug that has been approved to treat Covid-19 within five days of symptom onset, and is currently only available by prescription.
“Today’s authorisation introduces the first treatment for Covid-19 that is in the form of a pill that is taken orally,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
“It is a major step forward in the fight against this global pandemic.”
Cavazzoni added that this new tool made it possible to combat Covid-19 at a crucial time in the pandemic as new variants emerged.
Data from Pfizer suggests the drug retains its effectiveness against Omicron, which now accounts for 90% of new Covid-19 cases in the US.
During a Covid-19 response update, White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said President Joe Biden’s administration planned to have 265,000 treatment courses of Pfizer available in January.
With monthly totals of pills increasing throughout the year, it aims to have 10 million treatment courses delivered directly by late summer.
“As quickly as Pfizer gets the pills manufactured and delivered, we will immediately provide them to states and jurisdictions for distribution,” said Zients.
Meanwhile, US officials are currently reviewing another treatment pill by rival drugmaker Merck, which according to clinical trial data has led to a 30% reduction in hospitalisations and deaths.
– African News Agency (ANA)