Pfizer Inc. said Friday that its experimental antiviral pill against COVID-19 reduces the rate of hospitalization and death by about 90% in high-risk adults. The pharmaceutical company thus enters the race to market the first simple-to-use drug against coronavirus on the US market.
Currently, all COVID-19 treatments used in the United States require an IV or injection. Its competitor, the pill made by Merck, is under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after showing strong initial results, with Britain on Thursday becoming the first country to give it the go-ahead. .
Pfizer said it will ask the FDA and international regulators to authorize its pill as soon as possible after independent experts recommended stopping the study based on the strength of its results. Once Pfizer files its application, the FDA could make a decision in a matter of weeks or months.
Researchers around the world have raced to find a COVID-19 pill that can be taken at home to relieve symptoms, speed recovery and reduce the enormous burden on hospitals and doctors.
Pfizer released preliminary results from its study of 775 adults on Friday. Patients who took their drug with another antiviral had an 89% reduction in their combined rate of hospitalization or death after one month, compared to patients who received placebo. Less than 1% of patients who took the new pill had to be hospitalized and there were no deaths. In the control group, 7% were hospitalized and seven deaths were recorded.