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China approves use of Pfizer’s COVID drug Paxlovid

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment pill Paxlovid is seen in a box, at the Misericordia hospital in Grosseto, Italy, February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

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BEIJING, Feb 12 (Reuters) – China’s medical products regulator said on Saturday it had given conditional approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 drug Paxlovid (PFE.N), making it the first oral pill specifically developed to treat the disease eliminated in the country.

The National Medical Products Administration said Paxlovid is approved to treat adults who have mild to moderate COVID-19 and are at high risk of progressing to severe condition. Further study on the drug needs to be conducted and submitted to the authority, he said.

It is not immediately clear whether China is already in talks with Pfizer to procure the pill.

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“This is an important step in our fight against COVID-19,” a Pfizer representative said in a statement, without providing purchase information.

The approval is a boost for Pfizer which expects $22 billion in sales of the treatment in 2022. Read more

Pfizer executives said the company was in active talks with more than 100 countries about Paxlovid and had the capacity to supply 120 million courses if needed.

Although a number of vaccines are available around the world to help prevent infection and serious illness, including one made by Pfizer, treatment options for people infected with COVID-19 are limited.

Pfizer said in December that the final results of the trial showed its treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in COVID-19 patients at risk of serious illness receiving the treatment within three days of treatment. onset of symptoms, and 88% when given within five days. start days. Read more

The United States pays around $530 for each course of Paxlovid and $700 for each course of the rival COVID-19 pill molnupiravir developed by Merck & Co (MRK.N).

China has kept the daily number of new COVID-19 patients with confirmed symptoms to less than 250, and sometimes less than 10, over the past year.

The number is low for its population of 1.4 billion and by global standards, thanks to China’s approach of rapidly containing any local outbreaks as soon as possible and its multi-week quarantine requirement for the most travelers arriving from abroad.

China has yet to approve COVID-19 vaccines developed by foreign drugmakers, but has vaccinated 87.1 percent of its entire population as of Feb. 7 using several domestically developed injections.

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Reporting by Roxanne Liu and John Horwitz; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Lincoln Feast.

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.