Pills to treat COVID-19 could be authorized by end of the year, Pfizer says

A new COVID-19 treatment could potentially be authorized by the end of the year, according to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Bourla said the company is submitting data to the FDA on its COVID-19 pills, which likely also work against the omicron variant.

Pfizer's own research found that its pills reduce the risk of a COVID-19 patient being hospitalized or dying by 89 percent. To be most effective, the pills must be taken within three days of the patient being diagnosed with COVID-19.

"It is a game changer," Bourla said, referring to the Pfizer pills. "But at the same time, I want to emphasize that no one should use the existence of the pill as an excuse to avoid vaccination."

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The pills have had an 88 percent success rate when taken within five days of a high-risk, unvaccinated patient being diagnosed with the virus.

The FDA still has not made an authorization decision on the first set of COVID-19 treatment pills, which Merck submitted months ago. An FDA panel did vote 13-10 that the drug's benefits outweigh its risks, including potential birth defects if used during pregnancy.

Merck's pills are already authorized for use in the United Kingdom.

It's unclear when or if Merck or Pfizer's oral treatments could be available to the general public in the United States.
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