Covid-19: what you need to know about Paxlovid, the Pfizer pill soon to be distributed in France

FOCUS- This pill, expected in pharmacies at the end of January, would reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 89%, according to clinical trials conducted by the American laboratory.

It is expected for the end of January in French pharmacies. The Paxlovid pill, developed by Pfizer, is similar to Molnupiravir, the antiviral from Merck, another American laboratory. Specifically, it consists of a combination of two pills, taken twice daily for five days, upon diagnosis and within five days of the onset of Covid-19 symptoms. According to clinical trials communicated by Pfizer, the risk of hospitalization and death would be reduced by 89%.

The antiviral – also known as PF-07321332 – has undergone trials which have been communicated by the laboratory. The participants were unvaccinated and at high risk of developing a severe case of Covid-19. Side effects were usually “moderate“, according to Pfizer. In detail, the risk of hospitalization and death was reduced by 89% when the treatment was taken within three days after the onset of symptoms, and by 88% within five days. In a statement released in November, Pfizer specified the two molecules present in the drug: the active agent PF-07321332, which prevents the virus protein from replicating, and Ritonavir, also used for the treatment of HIV infections.

Pfizer wants to produce up to 120 million boxes of this drug worldwide from 2022. Its active ingredient will be produced in Mourenx, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, via an agreement with the French company Novasep, announced Figaro Albert Bourla, the general director of the laboratory. “Paxlovid will arrive in French pharmacies at the end of January“, he adds. The Minister of Health Olivier Véran had indeed affirmed that France had “positioned so that we can have some from the end of January“. If the use of the drug has been approved within the European Union, in France it still lacks the green light from the High Authority for Health (HAS).

Reduced mortality risk

Prescribed to people at risk diagnosed positive, it will change the situation for our health systems, by relieving hospitals», Estimates Albert Bourla. “Paxlovid will significantly reduce the risk of mortality“, also rejoices the virologist Bruno Lina, member of the Scientific Council, in the columns of the Parisian .

Pfizer could also benefit from the misfortunes of its competitor MSD-Merck, whose pill has proved less effective than expected in serious cases. The HAS rejected its use and France canceled its order for 50,000 treatments. In all, Pfizer will invest more than 520 million euros in France over five years, both in the production of Paxlovid and in French biotechs, and significantly increase its clinical trials with French patients, specifies Albert Bourla, who explains his choice. through “reforms carried out” and “a competitive country“.


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