The United States government has agreed to pay $5.29 billion for 10 million courses of Pfizer’s experimental COVID 19 antiviral pill as the country rushes to secure new oral treatments to manage the disease.
According to Reuters, this deal is for around twice as many treatment courses as those Merck & Co Inc had agreed to supply the United States under their contract. The price for the Pfizer pill is nearly 25% less than Merck’s version.
Earlier this week, Pfizer applied for emergency authorization for the drug, sold as “Paxlovid,” after reporting data showed that it was 89% effective at preventing hospitalization or death in at-risk people.
The trial’s results for the drug suggest that Paxlovid surpasses Merck’s drug called molnupiravir, which was shown to cut the risk of dying or being hospitalized for COVID-19 patients at high risk of serious illness in half.
While this antiviral pill still requires a full review by the Food and Drug Administration, I have taken immediate steps to secure enough supply for the American people,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
Biden also added that his administration was making preparations to ensure the treatment was easily accessible and free to the public.
“This treatment could prove to be another critical tool in our arsenal that will accelerate our path out of the pandemic,” said Biden. “But vaccines remain our strongest tool. With the authorization of vaccines for children aged 5 – 11 years old, 95% of Americans are now eligible to be vaccinated.”