Biden says 250,000 treatments of Pfizer’s antiviral pill will be available in January

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By Donald Judd, CNN

(CNN) – President Joe Biden on Wednesday pledged more than 250,000 treatments of Pfizer’s antiviral pill would be available from January after the United States Food and Drug Administration cleared it to treat Covid-19.

“With today’s action, we are adding the very first oral treatment to our country’s medicine cabinet and taking a significant step forward in our exit from the pandemic,” he added. “As soon as emerging science showed the promise of this antiviral, we acted quickly and aggressively to pre-purchase 10 million treatments – more than any other country in the world.”

He added, “We will have over 250,000 treatment courses available to us in January and we will work with states to ensure these are distributed fairly and just and that our hardest hit communities are reached. “

Earlier Wednesday, the United States Food and Drug Administration cleared Paxlovid to treat Covid-19, making it the first Covid-19 antiviral pill allowed for sick people to take at home, before they fell enough sick to be hospitalized.

High-risk people aged 12 and over who weigh at least 88 pounds and have a positive SARS-CoV-2 test are eligible for treatment and will need to be prescribed by a doctor. The pill “should be initiated as soon as possible after the diagnosis of Covid-19 and within five days of the onset of symptoms,” according to an FDA statement.

Paxlovid combines a new antiviral medicine called nirmatrelvir with an older medicine called ritonavir and is given as three tablets twice a day for five days. Last week, Pfizer released updated results that showed the treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% if given to high-risk adults within days of their first symptoms. If administered within the first five days of symptoms, the efficacy was similar: 88%.

Biden pledged “any resources necessary” to ensure distribution, including using the Defense Production Act “if warranted.”

White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters the treatment “dramatically reduces the risk of hospitalization and death for those at risk.”

“According to Pfizer, the complex chemistry involved in creating the active ingredient in the pill means that production takes around six to eight months, so the supply of this product will increase over the next several months,” Zients said. “Knowing that manufacturing these pills takes time, Pfizer continues to scale up their production plans, and now that the pill is licensed, we will have discussions to explore how we can help them further improve their manufacturing capability by providing all the necessary resources. “

According to Zients, the 10 million courses of treatment will be available by the end of the summer.

“As soon as Pfizer has the pills manufactured and delivered, we will immediately provide them to states and jurisdictions for distribution,” Zients told reporters, emphasizing equitable distribution as needed.

“We not only urge states to ensure fairness in their own distribution plans, but we are also distributing antivirals directly to community health centers across the country. This will help ensure that these life-saving antivirals are available to the most vulnerable and difficult communities. affected populations across the country. “

This story has been updated with comments from Jeff Zients.

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