American multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Pfizer said its experimental pill designed to fight coronavirus reduced the risk of hospitalization and death for high-risk patients taking part in a trial of the drug.
The company hopes it can eventually offer the pill, given in combination with an older antiviral drug called ritonavir, to people to take at home before they get sick enough to go to the hospital.
A so-called interim analysis showed an 89% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19 if patients got it soon enough, the company said.
The results were so striking, the company stopped the trial and is preparing to make its case to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of the drug.
“Today’s news is a real game-changer in the global efforts to halt the devastation of this pandemic,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.
Pfizer released the results in a news release. The data has not been peer reviewed or published.
The company has been testing the drug in adults with Covid-19 who are considered at high risk of progressing to severe illness. The volunteers have been randomly given either the pill combination or a placebo within three days or five days of their symptoms starting.
The pill, called Paxlovid and also known by the experimental name PF-07321332, is what’s known as a protease inhibitor. It’s designed to stop the virus from multiplying. Giving it along with ritonavir slows its breakdown in the body, the company said.
Bourla called the results “a great day for humanity,” and noted that they came almost a year to the day of the company announcing early results for its Covid-19 vaccine, which the company released on November 9, 2020.