Covid-19 Antiviral pill, Pfizer's Paxlovid. All you need to know.
April 30 2022. | 5 Minutes read.
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Pfizer’s Paxlovid was the first Covid-19 antiviral pill that was popular in the United States since FDA approved them in December 2021, through an emergency access mechanism known as an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). FDA-approved Paxlovid, for the treatment of mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in adults and children. For 12 years of age and older weighing at least 88 pounds (40 kg), with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing and who are at high risk of progression to severe Covid-19, including hospitalization or death.
WHO strongly recommended Paxlovid and says that “Highly Successful” Covid-19 therapy.
Paxlovid is not approved for the prevention of Covid-19 before or after exposure, or for the initiation of treatment in those who require hospitalization due to severe or critical Covid-19.
Paxlovid is not a substitute for vaccination. All eligible people must get their Covid-19 vaccination and booster doses.
The FDA updated the Covid-19 oral antiviral therapeutic Paxlovid on April 14, 2022, to authorize an additional dose pack introduction with suitable dosing for patients with moderate renal impairment within the scope of the EUA.
As a result, Paxlovid will be available in two package formats very soon.
What is Paxlovid's efficacy in treating Sars-coV-2 Virus infections?
Pfizer published the effects of Paxlovid to treat Covid-19, from a clinical trial carried out between mid-July and early December 2021 when it applied for FDA approval.
The data showed that unvaccinated participants who received Paxlovid were 89% less likely to develop severe illness and death than trial participants who received a placebo.
While it is recommended that Paxlovid be taken within five days of the appearance of symptoms, participants in the clinical trial took the medication within three days.
According to Pfizer’s statement released yesterday (April 29, 2022), a large trial found that Paxlovid, its COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment, was ineffective at preventing “cross-infection” in people who lived with someone infected with the virus.
The 10-day course participants were found to be 37% less likely to become infected, but the results were not statistically significant.
Researchers in the United States are planning studies to determine how frequently and why coronavirus levels rebound in some Covid patients who have finished a five-day course of treatment with Pfizer Inc.’s Paxlovid.
Paxlovid is currently approved or authorized for conditional or emergency use in over 60 countries around the world to treat Covid-19 patients at high risk.
Is Paxlovid effective against the Omicron variant?
Paxlovid’s clinical trials were conducted before Omicron variants became prevalent, but Pfizer claims the drug is effective against the highly contagious variant.
Three laboratory-based studies claim to back this up, two were conducted by Pfizer.
How does Paxlovid Work?
Paxlovid is an antiviral medication that combines two separate medications. Two of the three pills in your dose will be nirmatrelvir, a drug that prevents the SARS-CoV-2 protein from mutating.
The other is ritonavir, a drug that was previously used to treat HIV-AIDS but is now used to increase the effectiveness of antiviral medications.
As a Covid-19 therapy, ritonavir primarily shuts down nirmatrelvir’s metabolism in the liver, allowing it to stay in your body for longer, providing it a push to help fight the infection.
When should I start taking Paxlovid?
Paxlovid must be taken within five days of the onset of symptoms.
Paxlovid, like all antivirals, works best when used early in the course of an illness—in this case, during the first five days of the appearance of symptoms.
How frequently should I take Paxlovid?
Paxlovid is formed by two medications, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. Take 2 pink nirmatrelvir tablets with 1 white tablet of ritonavir. For a full course of 30 pills, you should take 3 Paxlovid pills twice daily(Morning and evening) for five days.
Even if you feel better, do not stop taking Paxlovid without consulting your healthcare provider.
Who can use Paxlovid?
Paxlovid has been approved by the FDA for people aged 12 years and above, and who weigh at least 88 pounds. You must also have a positive Covid-19 test result and be at high risk of developing severe Covid-19 to be eligible for a prescription.
That is, you must have certain underlying conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, or other medical conditions, or be 65 or older According to the CDC, the more underlying medical conditions a person has, the greater their risk of developing a severe case of Covid-19.
What should I tell my doctor before starting Paxlovid?
Inform your doctor if you have any allergies, liver or kidney disease, are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, are breastfeeding a child, or have any serious illnesses.
Inform your doctor about all of the medications you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Can I take Paxlovid if I am taking other medications?
Paxlovid may interact with a wide range of medications, and doctors may refuse to prescribe it in some cases due to the risk of serious complications.
Paxlovid interacts with several drugs, including some used to treat heart arrhythmias and organ anti-rejection drugs.
Paxlovid also slows the metabolism of anticoagulants, or blood thinners, on which many elderly people rely, increasing the levels of those medications in the body to dangerous levels.
Clinicians should carefully review the patient’s concomitant medications, including over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements, and recreational drugs, before prescribing ritonavir-boosted nirmatrelvir.
FDA has given a Fact sheet for Health care providers to avoid drug interactions. And Clinicians should consult resources such as the Liverpool COVID-19 Drug Interactions website.
Can I take Paxlovid if I am pregnant?
Because there is no experience using the drug in more populations, the FDA recommends discussing your choices available and specific situations with your health care provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you are at risk of becoming pregnant, it is advised that you use effective barrier contraception or refrain from sexual activity while taking Paxlovid.
What do we know about Paxlovid's efficacy in children?
In March, Pfizer launched a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Paxlovid in children and teenagers aged 6 to 17 years who have Covid-19 symptoms and test positive for the virus but are not hospitalized or at risk of severe disease.
Although Paxlovid is approved for use in adolescents and teenagers aged 12 and up who weigh at least 88 pounds, that age group was not tested in the original clinical trial.
However, because many children reach the adult weight of 88 pounds, the FDA has granted extensions of EUAs for medications such as monoclonal antibodies and remdesivir in younger age groups.
What are the side effects of Paxlovid?
The most common side effects of ritonavir-boosted nirmatrelvir(Paxlovid) are dysgeusia (taste disorder), diarrhea, hypertension, and myalgia(muscle pain).
How do I report Paxlovid side effects?
If you experience any side effects that bother you or do not go away, contact your healthcare provider. Report your side effects to the FDA’s MedWatch or Pfizer Inc.
Do I need to be up to date on my vaccines if Paxlovid is available?
Vaccination remains an important part of prevention, even as more drugs become available. Vaccination, preventive methods such as masking, and testing would be primary protection methods. Early testing is critical to ensuring that these drugs work.
The Achilles’ heel of these antiviral medications has always been that most people are not tested or do not have access to testing. Taking a test even if you believe you only have a cold or allergies, and if you can get one.
People should also remember that, despite its high efficacy, Paxlovid is not perfect, and even if it were, viruses can mutate and increase resistance to antiviral medications. However, in many high-risk patients, this medication (Paxlovid) can significantly reduce that risk.
What is the best way to store Paxlovid?
Paxlovid tablets should be stored at room temperature, between 68F and 77F (20C to 25C).
Is there anything else I can take if I'm not eligible for Paxlovid?
There are other treatments for Covid-19, and anyone unable to take Paxlovid—possibly due to an interaction with another medication—should consult with their doctor about the best approach for their specific situation.
You may be suggested to take other antiviral therapy such as molnupiravir, or Monoclonal Antibodies (mab).
If you have Covid-19 symptoms and believe you may be eligible for treatment, go to the government’s Test-to-Treat Locator. You can use the site to find locations near you, where you can fill a Covid-19 prescription or find locations that offer testing, medical care, and Covid-19 medications including Paxlovid.