Pfizer’s at-home pill to treat COVID-19 could be ready by end of this year
In Testing: The multinational pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced human safety testing of a new pill to treat corona-virus at home last month. If these trials are successful, the at home drug could be prescribed at the early signs of COVID-19, blocking the SARS-COV2 from replicating and preventing life threatening symptoms in patients.
Phase 1 trials of the pill developed by Pfizer are underway in the USA and Belgium among approximately 60 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 to 60. The antiviral drug has also been tested on animals without any visible safety risks. Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer suggested that if things continue to run smoothly Pfizer could begin a much larger combined Phase 2-Phase 3 trial early in the second quarter of the year, potentially allowing the company to apply for emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2021.
Mechanism: The Phase 1 trial is a randomised, placebo controlled, single and multi-dose escalation study in healthy adults that evaluates the safety, efficiency and tolerability in this group. Protease inhibitors bind to a viral enzyme (called protease), preventing the virus from replicating in the cell. Protease inhibitors have been seen to be effective against HIV and Hepatitis C virus before.
Future Implications: CEO Albert Bourla suggested that if all goes well and they maintain the same development speed that they are on currently, then this could be a ‘game changer’ against the pandemic. Pfizer’s head of medicine design said that we will see continued outbreaks from COVID-19 in the foreseeable future so it is important to have a full toolbox to address it.
Albert Bourla commented on the horrible situation in India and said ‘you are only as safe as your neighbor’. He further stated that we must provide solutions to India and Africa or they will become a pool where the virus replicates and mutates which will affect the whole world.