US spends 5.3 billion USD to buy Covid-19 drug from Pfizer

The US government paid $5.29 billion to buy 10 million courses of the antiretroviral drug paxlovid to treat Covid-19, pharmaceutical company Pfizer said on November 18.

The deal is twice as large as the one the country signed with Merck to buy molnupiravir. The price of paxlovid is $530 per course, 25% less than $700 for a course of molnupiravir. Pfizer this week filed for emergency approval of the drug with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), after a clinical trial found the drug was 89% effective at preventing hospitalization or death in people at risk. tall muscle. The results surpassed the 50% figure of molnupiravir.

“The FDA still needs a full review of the drug, but we will immediately ensure the supply to the American people,” President Joe Biden said. The government is also working to ensure that the people of this country receive free and easy Covid-19 treatment.

The US still prioritizes the vaccination campaign, but having an effective pill that prevents hospitalizations will be “a lifesaver”, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

Pfizer is expected to produce 180,000 courses of paxlovid by the end of next month, at least 50 million courses by the end of 2022. According to reports from both Merck and Pfizer, the US has been racing for the supply of Covid-19 treatment drugs of the two companies. . To date, the government of this country has spent $ 2.2 billion to buy 3.1 million courses of molnupiravir, ordering two million more courses.

The advantage of both drugs is their oral administration, which is different from existing methods, such as monoclonal antibodies that require injection or intravenous infusion. Patients can take paxlovid and molnupiravir at home extremely easily.

Pfizer’s paxlovid is manufactured in the city of Ascoli, Italy, on November 16. Photo: Reuters

This is simple but important, because treating acute infections like Covid-19 or the flu with antivirals is inherently complicated. The general rule is to slow down viruses so that the immune system has time to defeat them, before the pathogens do too much damage to the human body.

Molnupiravir interrupts the process of nCoV replication. It copies a building block of viral genetic material. Therefore, when the virus reproduces, it “mistakes” to combine with the RNA of the drug. This creates errors in the genetic code. Accumulating enough errors, nCoV stops reproducing and is completely eliminated in the human body.

Paxlovid also prevents the virus from replicating, but by a different mechanism. It binds to and blocks the action of an enzyme called protease. nCoV needs enzymes to continue to reproduce.

Thuc Linh (Follow Reuters)


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