S.Korea approves Pfizer’s oral Covid-19 pill

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South Korea on Monday approved an emergency authorization of US drug giant Pfizer Inc.’s oral drug to treat Covid-19, making it the first such pill to be used in the country.

Paxlovid is the antiviral pill for the treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 in patients at increased risk of hospitalisation or death, according to Pfizer and the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

The Ministry convened a panel of experts from both inside and outside to review the safety and efficacy of Paxlovid, and concluded that the oral pill is needed to deal with the public health crisis, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The drug is a protease inhibitor antiviral therapy that is specifically designed to be administered orally so that it can be prescribed at the first sign of infection or at first awareness of an exposure.

The Ministry said trial results showed Paxlovid significantly reduces the risk of hospitalisation or death in patients at high risk of severe illness.

The pill will be prescribed to use in adults and pediatric patients 12 years of age and older who are at high risk for progression to severe cases.

Paxlovid should be initiated as soon as possible after diagnosis of Covid-19 within five days, and will be prescribed for twice a day for five days.

The Ministry forecasts Paxlovid to be effective against the new Omicron variant.

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration granted an Emergency Use Authorization approval of Paxlovid.

Currently, Remdesivir, which is developed by Gilead Sciences Inc., is used to treat critically ill Covid-19 patients in South Korea.

Also, Rekirona, developed by South Korean pharmaceutical giant Celltrion Inc., is used to reduce the risk of progressing to severe cases.

Both Remdesivir and Rekirona take the form of an intravenous injection.

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