Pfizer's COVID pill will be tested in hospitalized patients

Scientists will look into whether Paxlovid reduces the risk of death among patients admitted to hospitals.

In a major British trial, Pfizer's oral COVID-19 therapy will be studied as a possible treatment for patients hospitalized with the illness, scientists announced on Monday, as cases surge in some parts of the world. The RECOVERY trial, the world's biggest randomized study of prospective COVID-19 medicines, will evaluate Paxlovid across hospitals in the United Kingdom, which has previously approved the drug for early-stage treatment. "Paxlovid is a promising oral antiviral drug, but we don't know if it can improve survival of patients with severe COVID-19," said Peter Horby, a professor at the University of Oxford and joint chief investigator of the RECOVERY trial. The researchers want to see if Pfizer's Paxlovid reduces the risk of death among COVID-19 patients who are admitted to hospitals.

The trial began examining a competitor COVID-19 pill from Merck for hospitalized patients earlier this year. RECOVERY, which is led by the University of Oxford, will look into whether Paxlovid shortens hospital stays or minimizes the requirement for a mechanical ventilator. Paxlovid belongs to the protease inhibitor class of drugs, which are now used to treat HIV, hepatitis C, and other viruses. It works by preventing the virus from replicating. Pfizer, which is currently studying Paxlovid for use in children, has predicted that Paxlovid will generate more than $20 billion in sales this year. In a "significant breakthrough" in the pandemic, scientists behind the RECOVERY study in 2020 demonstrated that dexamethasone, a steroid, was able to save patients' lives.