Pfizer signs $5.3bn Covid pill deal with US

Pharmaceutical company will sell 10 million Covid-19 treatment courses to US government, pending approval from regulators

Pfizer said that it will sell 10 million Covid-19 treatment courses to the US government for $5. 3 billion, pending approval from regulators. AFP

Pfizer said on Thursday it will sell 10 million Covid-19 treatment courses for Covid-19 to the US government for $5.3 billion, pending approval from regulators.

The pharmaceutical company asked the US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday for emergency use authorisation for its Paxlovid pill, which has been shown to cut hospital admission and death by about 90 per cent among newly infected, high-risk patients.

The drugmaker said it also has started rolling submissions for approval in several other countries and has advanced purchase agreements with other governments as well.

On Tuesday, Pfizer signed a deal a with UN-backed group to allow generic drugmakers to produce low-cost versions of the pill for certain countries. Merck has a similar deal for its pill, which was authorised in Britain this month.

The FDA is already reviewing the pill from Merck and will hold a public meeting on it this month.

Pfizer said this month that its pill reduced hospital admissions and deaths by 89 per cent among high-risk people in the early stages of Covid-19.

The company studied its pill in people who were unvaccinated and faced the worst risks from the virus due to age or health problems, such as obesity.

Pfizer chief Albert Bourla at the time said the results of the study were a "game-changer" to halt the pandemic.

Unlike most other Covid-19 treatments, it could be prescribed for home use. The combination treatment consists of three pills given twice a day.

Pfizer's drug, part of a class known as protease inhibitors, is designed to block an enzyme Covid-19 needs to multiply.

The company wants the drug to be available for adults who have mild to moderate Covid-19 infections and are at risk of becoming seriously ill. This is similar to how other drugs are currently used to treat the disease.

But all FDA-authorised Covid-19 treatments require an IV or injection given by a health professional at a hospital or clinic.

Pfizer has already booked more than $24bn in global revenue so far this year from Comirnaty, its Covid-19 vaccine, which has quickly become the drugmaker’s top-selling product.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: November 18th 2021, 3:48 PM