Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral pill reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in recent phase 2/3 trials.
As COVID-19 vaccines continue to curb cases across the world, scientists are now turning their attention to oral pills for fighting off infections. Earlier this month, Merck’s molnupiravir became the first COVID-19 antiviral pill approved for treatment in the UK. Now, Pfizer is also aiming to make a breakthrough in oral COVID-19 treatment. In May, the pharmaceutical company had announced phase 1 trials of its oral candidate, PF-07321332. After success in phase 1 trials, the pill then moved on to phase 2/3 trials. According to the results of the recent trials, Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill could be a real game-changer in the fight against COVID.
Phase 2/3 EPIC-HR Study
Called PAXLOVID, the oral pill is a protease inhibitor designed to block the activity of an enzyme that the coronavirus needs to replicate. By inhibiting viral replication, the pill can then help prevent severe infections.
The Phase 2/3 EPIC-HR (Evaluation of Protease Inhibition for COVID-19 in High-Risk Patients) trial involved non-hospitalized high-risk adult COVID patients. As part of the trial, the participants either received the oral pill every 12 hours for five days or the placebo. According to a recent press release, the interim analysis revealed an 89% reduction in hospitalization or death compared to the placebo group. Moreover, through day 28, study authors did not report any deaths in patients receiving PAXLOVID. However, the placebo group registered a total of 10 deaths. Thus, indicating the pill’s effectiveness in high-risk patients.
Pfizer now plans to submit its data to the U.S. FDA for Emergency Use Authorization. If approved, PAXLOVID would be the first antiviral of its kind. However, the pill is not meant to be a replacement for vaccines. Instead, researchers hope to administer the oral pill for at-home treatment in adults.