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Pfizer Covid Pill Authorized By The FDA To Take At Home May Be Risky With Other Drugs

Pfizer Covid Pill Authorized By The FDA To Take At Home May Be Risky With Other Drugs

Pfizer pill

Pfizer image credit: zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 12/18/20

A covid-19 pill, Paxlovid, that was authorized for use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help high-risk people avoid being hospitalized, could have serious side effects for its target demographic if taken with other drugs.

The pill, used with an HIV drug, cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent in high-risk adults who’ve been exposed to the virus, according to clinical trial data from pharmaceutical and biotech corporation Pfizer, CNBC reported.

The FDA identified more than 30 medications that could have significant interactions with the antiviral pills for covid-19, including blood thinners, drugs for lowering cholesterol and treating gout – a common form of arthritis — and some antidepressants.

One of the two drugs in the antiviral cocktail could cause severe or life-threatening interactions with widely used medications,  medical experts told NBC News.

“Some of these potential interactions are not trivial, and some pairings have to be avoided altogether,” said Peter Anderson, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, according to NBC News. 

“Some are probably easily managed. But some we’re going to have to be very careful about.”


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Recent lab data suggest the drug retains its effectiveness against omicron, Pfizer said.

Paxlovid is in a class of medicines called protease inhibitors and works by inhibiting an enzyme the virus needs to replicate in human cells. Protease inhibitors are used to treat other viral pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C.

The HIV drug helps slow the metabolism or breakdown of Pfizer’s pill for it to remain active in the body for longer periods at higher concentrations, the company said.

During the trial stages of the drug, there were six hospitalizations and zero deaths in 607 trial participants who received the pill in combination with an HIV drug within five days of symptom onset, Pfizer said.

By comparison, 41 hospitalizations and 10 deaths were registered out of the 612 people who received a placebo during the trials.

Pfizer is not the only pharmaceutical company making progress with an easy-to-use covid-19 medication. After showing strong initial results, Merck’s covid-19 pill is already under review by the FDA.

Pfizer image credit: zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 12/18/20

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