(AP) – The US government will pay drugmaker Pfizer $5.29 billion for 10 million treatment courses of its potential COVID-19 treatment if regulators authorise it. If it is approved, the deal will be the nation’s largest purchase agreement yet for a coronavirus therapy.
Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday to authorise emergency use of the experimental pill, which has been shown to significantly cut the rate of hospitalisations and deaths among people with coronavirus infections. The FDA is already reviewing a competing pill from Merck and will hold a public meeting on it later this month.
The drugmaker said it also has started rolling submissions for approval in several other countries and there are advanced purchase agreements with other governments as well.
The price for Pfizer’s potential treatment amounts to about US$529 per course. The US has already agreed to pay roughly US$700 per course of Merck’s drug for about 3.1 million treatments.
Pfizer said Thursday the price being paid by the US government reflects the high number of treatment courses purchased through 2022.
Pfizer reported earlier this month that its pill cut hospitalisations and deaths by 89 percent among high-risk adults who had early symptoms of COVID-19. The company studied its pill in people who were unvaccinated and faced the worst risks from the virus due to age or health problems, such as obesity.
Pfizer wants the drug available for adults who have mild-to-moderate COVID-19 infections and are at risk of becoming seriously ill. That’s similar to how other drugs are currently used to treat the disease.
Pfizer and Merck are seeking approval for their treatments as COVID-19 cases start to rebound in the US.