Tech

New Covid drugs are here — and they could change the pandemic


So why are these drug companies putting such a big push on drugs if their effectiveness isn’t all they claim to be? Reputation and market share — and possibly the ability to sell other drugs when Covid is under control. “The more drugs like this are available in India, China and sub-Saharan Africa, the more Pfizer can sell all the other drugs they want to sell,” Iyer said. “Hospitals can take on patients with cancer or illnesses on all the other drugs they make. And in terms of reputation, it helps a lot.”

To be clear, none of this means the medication didn’t work. For example, it is likely that Paxlovid’s 89% will decline over time. “If these drugs are only given to hospital patients after they show up, 10 days after the onset of the illness, they will,” said David Boulware, an infectious disease physician at the University of Minnesota. not much impact. participate in, relate to many Covid drug trials. However, people must get tested for Covid before being prescribed. “It’s complicated. It’s hard. In low-income countries, it is easier to vaccinate people. If you can vaccinate high-risk people, that’s a much better prospect than trying to deal with both diagnosis and treatment.”

Both drugs have complications in terms of actual usage. Molnupiravir has been active for 20 years, and it targets a lot of different diseases. Mills said most virologists were desperate for it to never find a real use – partly because of the mutagenic problems the researchers saw in the analyzes and tests. experience for many years. For example, it probably wouldn’t be used by women who are or could be pregnant. Recently article in Statistical says that Merck’s animal testing of molnupiravir did not find any problems, and Statistical quoted a Merck executive VP as telling investors the company was “confident” in the drug’s safety record.

Ritonavir, the second ingredient in the Pfizer pack, not only inhibits liver activity; it also has well-known interactions with anticoagulants and widely prescribed anti-cholesterol drugs. So people taking those may have to change their dosage, or stop taking them for five days of the full course. Not impossible, but not easy either.

All that said, many researchers and public health experts believe the new drugs will help. Even Mills says he thinks they will have an impact, although it’s hard to say how big it is. And the total number of deaths not included in the Paxlovid trial could be staggering, if the model spans tens of thousands of people. “I am very bullish here,” said Tulio de Oliveira, director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. “The companies, Merck and Pfizer, have made clear guidelines that drug prices will be much lower in the developing world. Furthermore, they are also collaborating with a number of local companies to manufacture drugs in developing countries. “

The flip side of big pharmaceutical companies having to justify their massive pre-orders with governments is that those governments may have seen more data than the companies have released publicly. “They have both trials. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said they looked at data that we didn’t have. “They’ve seen beyond the press release and bought, as you’ve seen, tens of millions of doses of two pills.” For Topol, who has tracked vaccine and drug development efforts throughout the pandemic, that unpublished data looks as good as the public numbers.

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