WHO ‘strongly recommends’ Pfizer antivirals for patients at risk

Posted on Friday, April 22, 2022 at 00:24

The World Health Organization on Friday strongly recommended the use of the antiviral drug Baxolvid from the US drug group Pfizer for patients with less severe forms of Covid-19 and “at higher risk of hospitalization”.

But similar to what happened with Covid vaccines, the World Health Organization is “extremely concerned” that less affluent countries will again struggle to access the drug.

For WHO experts, the nirmatrelvir/ritonavir combination is “the drug of choice” for unvaccinated, elderly or immunocompromised patients, according to an article in the British Journal of Medicine.

For this same type of patient and symptomatic, the World Health Organization also issued a “weak recommendation” for remdesivir from the US Gilead Laboratory, which it had previously advised.

Paxlovid should be preferred over molnupiravir or remdesivir as well as a monoclonal antibody, which determines which organization is continuing its campaign for vaccination.

Dr. Janet Diaz, leader of the medical team responsible for responding to Covid-19 during this time, insisted that “it is essential to prevent people from developing a serious form of disease and from dying. Vaccination is a key prevention intervention.” Press briefing in Geneva.

Paxilovid “reduces the number of hospitalizations more than the alternatives, has a lower potential risk than the antiviral molnopiravir, and is easier to administer than intravenous options such as remdesivir and antibody therapy.”

Studies have shown that there are 84 fewer hospital admissions per 1,000 patients, with no “significant difference in mortality” and “little or no risk of complications leading to treatment discontinuation”, as the World Health Organization asserts.

This recommendation applies to persons 18 years of age and under and does not apply to pregnant or breastfeeding women.

It also does not apply to patients at low risk of complications because the positive effects are minimal.

Experts also refused to give their opinion about patients with a severe form of the disease due to a lack of data.

– restrictions –

However, the World Health Organization stresses the limitations of these antiviral treatments: in particular they must be “given as early as possible in the onset of the disease” which also assumes access to tests that allow detecting infection and confirming a doctor for the diagnosis. Prescribe medication.

Therefore, Paxlovid should be taken orally for 5 consecutive days, especially less than 5 days after the onset of symptoms.

In the case of remdesivir, it takes 7 days after symptoms appear and must be given intravenously over three days.

barrier in low- and middle-income countries.

As for cost and availability, the WHO is calling for Pfizer to be more transparent and open.

According to Dr. Lisa Hedman, WHO Drug Access Officer, US public radio NPR has revealed a cost of US$530 for a full course of Baxilovide in the US, another source unconfirmed by WHO reports a price of around US$250 dollars in an upper middle income country.

For remdesivir, the ampoule costs $520, explains Lisa Hedman, but it’s $53 to $64 for those developed by public companies in India.

There is also still a question mark regarding the risk of developing resistance to these treatments to the virus leading to the emergence of Covid-19.

– Wind in the sails –

In mid-April, Albert Borla, CEO of Pfizer, predicted a bright future for treatments like paxlovid because the disease had become endemic, but also because of the strain of a particular vaccine.

Accused, like its competitors, of depriving less affluent countries of the antiviral RNA vaccine to serve high-income countries, Pfizer has entered into licensing agreements under the auspices of the United Nations, making it possible to manufacture a generic version. Cheaper than paxlovid.

But the World Health Organization “strongly recommends” that Pfizer go further with more transparent pricing and contracts and an expanded licensing base so that more public companies can produce the drug.

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