CNN – The Biden administration has secured the purchase of 20 million treatments of Paxlovid, Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral pill, a senior administration official told CNN on Monday.
The administration will work with the manufacturer to speed up production and delivery of the new drug to pharmacies across the country, the official told reporters. A tranche of 100,000 courses will initially be available to pharmacies per quarter while demand and adoption are monitored.
Paxlovid combines a new antiviral drug called nirmatrelvir and an older one called ritonavir and is given as three tablets taken twice a day for five days. Data released by Pfizer late last year showed the treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% if given to high-risk adults within days of their first symptoms.
“Paxlovid was first cleared by the FDA in late December. And there were very, very few pills. The administration has worked incredibly hard to ramp up both production and acquisition, and the good news is that we have made really substantial progress,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said on NPR on Monday.
“Now we need to turn those pills into prescriptions and things that patients can get so they can get better if they get infected. We have a big set of efforts that we’ve been working on and launching, and we’ I’m going to do a lot more this week.”
While the administration secured funding for the order, the top administration official warned Monday that without additional funds from Congress, “we won’t be able to buy more.”
Another senior administration official estimated that the use of Covid-19 antiviral treatments like Paxlovid has more than doubled in the past month – and uptake could increase as the drug becomes more accessible.
As a result, the administration will also announce on Tuesday that it is expanding access to treatment for pharmacies nationwide through the administration’s federal antiviral pharmacy program, estimating that Americans will be able to order free antiviral treatments in more than 30,000 locations in the near future. .
The test-to-treat initiative involves “one-stop-shop” sites where people are offered free Covid-19 tests and, if positive, can be prescribed free antiviral drugs on the spot. Select pharmacies across the United States — including CVS, Walgreens and Walmart — participate in the test-to-treat program in select locations.
According to a fact sheet shared with CNN, the administration will increase education of medical providers on the latest information regarding Covid-19 antiviral treatments “to broaden awareness and understanding of these treatments and to ensure that providers of health care counsel their patients about these effective treatments, prescribing them when appropriate and helping patients identify where their prescription can be filled.”
Paxlovid is cleared for use under an FDA emergency use authorization for the treatment of high-risk individuals 12 years of age and older, including patients with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity .
“What’s important to note though is that apparently this may seem like an expansion to some people, as many suppliers at the start of this scarcity mindset, when there were less – less courses available across the country, really reserved this only for people who they thought would be the sickest of the sick,” the second official said.
“And that’s why the provider training component…is so critical to working – it’s about making sure that across the country, in every community, providers know we have packs of these available for their patients. , one of which is at high risk of severe Covid-19 progression.”
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved.