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Pfizer Begins Human Trials of New Pill to Treat Coronavirus

Healthcare workers prepare doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado, on Feb. 20, 2021.

(Bloomberg) --Pfizer Inc. said it has begun human safety testing of a new pill to treat the coronavirus that could be used at the first sign of illness.

By Robert Langreth
Mar 23, 2021, 5:00 PM
Word Count: 329

If it succeeds in trials, the pill could be prescribed early on in an infection to block viral replication before patients get very sick. The drug binds to an enzyme called a protease to keep the virus from replicating. Protease-inhibiting medicines have been successful in treating other types of viruses, include HIV and Hepatitis C.

“Given the way that SARS-CoV-2 is mutating and the continued global impact of Covid-19, it appears likely that it will be critical to have access to therapeutic options both now and beyond the pandemic,” said Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s Chief Scientific Officer, in a statement.

The new protease inhibitor is the second such medicine Pfizer has brought into human trials to treat Covid-19. Pfizer is testing another given intravenously to hospitalized virus patients.

Easy-to-use treatments are lacking for early-stage Covid-19 patients. While antibody therapies from Eli Lilly & Co. and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. are authorized in the U.S. for Covid patients who haven’t yet been hospitalized but are at high risk of developing severe symptoms, they must be infused in the hospital or at a doctor’s office.

That has created logistical challenges that have limited their use. Other therapies are intended for sicker people: Gilead Sciences Inc.’s antiviral drug remdesivir must be infused over several days and is approved only for hospitalized patients.

Among major drugmakers, Merck & Co. has one of the few coronavirus pills that is far along in human testing. Its experimental antiviral drug molnupiravir works by a different mechanism than the Pfizer drug and is in late-stage human trials.

In the test tube, Pfizer’s oral protease inhibitor, code-named PF-07321332, had potent antiviral activity both against both SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses, Pfizer said. The company said it would share more data on the compound at the American Chemical Society meeting on April 6.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]
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