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

President Joe Biden on Wednesday pledged more than 250,000 treatment courses of Pfizer’s antiviral pill will be available starting in January after the US Food and Drug Administration authorized it to treat Covid-19.

“With today’s action, we add the first-ever oral treatment to our nation’s medicine cabinet and take a significant step forward in our path out of 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 treatment courses — 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 be working with states to ensure those are being distributed equitably and fairly and that our hardest-hit communities are reached.”

The US Food and Drug Administration earlier Wednesday authorized Paxlovid to treat Covid-19, making it the first antiviral Covid-19 pill authorized for ill people to take at home, before they get sick enough to be hospitalized.

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

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

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

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