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Pfizer says its COVID-19 pill is 89% effective at reducing hospitalization and death

Nov 05, 2021


Pfizer announced Friday it is planning to become the second company to submit data for a COVID-19 pill to the Food and Drug Administration. Pfizer said the pill is called ritonavir, but it is also known as its brand name “PAXLOVID”. According to data, the Pfizer pill caused an “89% reduction in risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization or death from any cause compared to placebo.”

The video above shows a doctor with Pfizer discussing Friday’s news.

The data come from a study of 775 adults. Participants were unvaccinated and had mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19. They were also considered high risk for hospitalization due to health problems.

Pfizer reported none of the patients who took its COVID-19 pill died within 28 days of taking the pill. Independent experts recommended halting the company’s study based on the strength of its results.

The company released few details regarding the side effects of the pill.

“Today’s news is a real game-changer in the global efforts to halt the devastation of this pandemic,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a Friday news release. “Given the continued global impact of COVID-19, we have remained laser-focused on the science and fulfilling our responsibility to help healthcare systems and institutions around the world while ensuring equitable and broad access to people everywhere.”

Pfizer said it will ask the FDA and international regulators to authorize its COVID-19 pill as soon as possible. Once Pfizer applies, the FDA could make a decision within weeks or months.

The Pfizer announcement Friday comes ahead of an FDA review of Merck’s COVID-19 pill, known as molnupiravir. Back in September, Merck said the pill cut rates of hospitalization and death in half. Earlier this week, the pill was approved for use in the United Kingdom.

In addition to looking into the Pfizer and Merck pills, the U.S. has approved one other antiviral drug for COVID-19 and authorized three antibody therapies that help the immune system fight the virus. However, these treatments all have to be administered by IV or injection at hospitals or clinics. Supplies of the drug and therapies have been strained by the last surge of the delta variant.

Pfizer shares spiked more than 9% before the opening bell Friday.


Dr. Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer: “We are very pleased to report today that the first in-class oral protease inhibitor, which is a medicine taken as a pill for five days and inhibits one of the critical components of the virus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID 19, making it impossible for the virus to further expand.”

“Within three days of the symptoms, you have now 89% protection from disease leading to hospitalization with our medicines, and the data indicate 100% protection from death. And even if you start the medicine five days after having contracted the disease COVID-19 with symptoms, you have now 85% protection.”

“It’s just extraordinary. I feel as a physician, so positive, so optimistic, so pleased that we can share this data now at high level, publicly.”

“I think this is one of the biggest medical advances for a single drug in virology in a long, long time.”

“We’re talking about hopefully soon in ’21 that this medicine can be available. And then, of course, on the larger reach next year.”