Japan Health Ministry approves Pfizer’s oral Covid drug

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Japan’s Health Ministry on Thursday approved the use of an oral Covid-19 pill produced by Pfizer Inc. to increase treatment options for people with mild symptoms.

The approval came after a ministry panel passed the drug’s use on the same day, amid surging infections caused by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, Xinhua news agency reported.

The pill called Paxlovid, a combination of two antiviral drugs, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, will be the second oral drug available in Japan to treat mild Covid-19 symptoms.

The Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare is expected to approve the fast-tracking of Paxlovid soon.

Following the approval, the Japanese government plans to initially secure enough doses for 40,000 people.

The country has already agreed with the Japanese branch of the US pharmaceutical giant to acquire enough doses for 2 million people within the year.

Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto has said that oral drugs are expected to play a significant role in treating mild Covid-19 infections.

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