Pfizer, US ink $5.29B deal possible COVID-19 treatment
If approved by the regulatory agency, the US government will pay drug maker Pfizer US$5.29 billion for 10 million courses of its potential COVID-19 treatment, which is the largest purchase agreement for coronavirus treatment in the United States to date.
Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to authorize the emergency use of the experimental pill, which has been shown to significantly reduce the hospitalization rate and mortality of people infected with the coronavirus.
The FDA is already reviewing competing pills from Merck and will hold a public meeting later this month.
The price of Pfizer’s potential treatment is approximately US$529 per course of treatment. The United States has agreed to pay approximately US$700 per course of Merck’s drugs for approximately 3.1 million treatments.
Pfizer said on Thursday that the price paid by the US government reflects a large number of treatment courses purchased by 2022.
President Joe Biden said in a statement that his government is taking steps to ensure that treatment is “easy and free.”
Biden said: “This treatment may prove to be another key tool in our arsenal, and it will accelerate our way out of a pandemic,” adding that vaccines to prevent viruses are still the most powerful tool.
Pfizer has begun rolling applications for approval in several other countries/regions, and has also signed advanced procurement agreements with other governments.
On Tuesday, Pfizer signed an agreement with a United Nations-backed organization that allows generic drug manufacturers to produce low-cost versions of pills for certain countries. There is a similar deal for Merck’s pill, which was licensed in the UK earlier this month.
Pfizer reported earlier this month that its pills have reduced the number of hospitalizations and deaths of high-risk adults with early symptoms of COVID-19 by 89%.
The company studied its pills in people who have not been vaccinated and are at greatest risk of the virus due to health issues such as age or obesity.
Pfizer hopes that the drug can be used in adults who have mild to moderate COVID-19 infection and are at risk of serious illness. This is similar to the current way other drugs are used to treat this disease.
But all FDA-authorized treatments for COVID-19 require intravenous injections or injections by health professionals in hospitals or clinics.
Pfizer’s potential treatment is to take it twice a day for five days, combined with a second antiviral pill to enhance its effect.
So far this year, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty has global revenues of more than 24 billion U.S. dollars, and the vaccine has quickly become the drugmaker’s best-selling product.
When the market opened on Thursday, New York-based Pfizer’s shares rose less than 2%. This summer, they set a record high of US$51.86, breaking the previous record of 22 years.
As COVID-19 cases begin to rebound again in the United States, Pfizer and Merck are seeking approval for their treatments
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the 7-day rolling average of daily new cases on Wednesday was close to 87,000. This is an increase from the approximately 68,000 people at the end of last month.