OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Drug-maker Pfizer released study information about its easy-to-administer COVID-19 pill, saying it cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in high-risk adults who’ve been exposed to the virus.
“Pfizer has been doing studies on coronaviruses since we had the original SARS outbreak of 2003. So, they were quickly able to retool one of their medications to see if it would be effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU’s Chief Covid Officer.
The new pill from Pfizer could be a game changer for those diagnosed with COVID-19.
“In the clinical trial that they had started but stopped prematurely because it was so good, they saw about a 90% reduction in the incidents of people either being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19,” Bratzler said.
Bratzler says it’s a combination of two pills – one is a widely used HIV drug.
“You take this combination of pills for five days and it was very very effective,” Bratzler said.
Pfizer’s news comes a day after the United Kingdom cleared the use of an antiviral medication developed by Merck called Molnupiravir.
“Both of them work by inhibiting replication of the virus. But they work by a different mechanism. Merck pill actually changes the genetic code of the virus,” Bratzler said.
Pfizer’s pill is now headed to the FDA for approval of emergency use authorization.
Both Pfizer’s and Merck’s medications could come at a large cost – about $700.
But Bratzler says hopefully not to the patient.
“The federal government is negotiating to buy courses of these medications that hopefully you can get them at the pharmacy at little to no cost,” Bratzler said.
Bratzler also stressed the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself.
But he says this treatment can be used on both vaccinated and unvaccinated patients.
“I do have concerns that people can say ‘well we can treat it, so we don’t need to prevent it. Remember, prevention is always the least expensive strategy to prevent the disease,” Bratzler said.
This treatment could eventually be available with a prescription from your doctor.
Pfizer said it plans to ask the FDA to authorize the drug combination “as soon as possible.”