Pfizer begins trial of oral antiviral drug for prevention of Covid-19 in adults


Pfizer Inc has started a large study testing its investigational oral antiviral drug to prevent Covid-19 infection among those already exposed to the virus. The Phase 2/3 trial by Pfizer in of the first Covid-19 vaccine makers globally, is a part of global clinical research program and is enrolling individuals who are at least 18 years old and live in the same household as an individual with confirmed symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The Pfizer drug, PF-07321332, has been designed to block the activity of a key enzyme needed for coronavirus to replicate. The drug will be administered with low dose of ritonavir, an older medication widely used for combination treatments for HIV infection on patients with confirmed diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection who are at standard risk.

A total of 2,660 healthy adult participants aged 18 and older will be randomly assigned (1:1:1) to receive PF-07321332/ritonavir or placebo orally twice daily for 5 or 10 days. Mikael Dolsten, Chief Scientific Officer and President, Worldwide Research, Development and Medical of Pfizer said that the study aims to find new ways in which their investigational oral antiviral candidate could potentially “lower the impact of COVID-19, not only on patients’ lives, but also the lives of their families and household members.”

Pfizer claims PF-07321332 is the first orally administered coronavirus-specific investigational protease inhibitor to be evaluated in clinical studies. The vaccine maker has also started another study of PF-07321332 in non-hospitalized, symptomatic adult patients and another in infected patients who are at standard risk (i.e., do not have risk factors for severe illness), which began in August 2021.

Meanwhile, Swiss pharmaceutical Roche Holding AG and US-based Merck & Co Inc are also conducting trails to develop an easy-to-administer antiviral pill for Covid-19. Merck in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics started a late-stage trial of their experimental drug molnupiravir for prevention of the Covid-19 infection.

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