With its vaccine already tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, Pfizer is working to add an oral therapy to its arsenal. The medicine called PF-07321332 has been previously used to fight against infections such as HIV and Hepatitis C.
Pfizer is utilizing a tested method in hopes to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The PF-07321332 is a protease inhibitor which binds to a viral enzyme in order to prevent virus replication in the cell. According to Pfizer, proteases are not associated with toxicity and may provide treatments with few side effects for COVID-19.
The early-stage trial is taking place in the United States among 60 healthy adults ranging from the ages of 18 to 60 years old. The second part of the trial will test multiple doses as the first part concluded that single doses resulted in decreased coronavirus activity.
The goal of the oral therapeutic is to treat both those with early symptoms and those who have been hospitalized. Notably, the pill would also potentially allow for treatment outside of health care facilities, increasing treatment availability as opposed to the infusion treatments only available on site.
This pill works in tandem with the vaccine in order to stop the spread of the virus. Pfizer has also claimed that the oral therapeutic is effective against other variants of the virus. Pfizer’s Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD stated, “Tackling the COVID-19 pandemic requires both prevention via vaccine and targeted treatment for those who contract the virus.”
The pill will be used to decrease the severity of the virus along with the possibility of complications or death and would ideally be given to those who show signs of early symptoms of the virus.
Dolsten added, “Given the way that SARS-CoV-2 is mutating and the continued global impact of COVID-19, it appears likely that it will be critical to have access to therapeutic options both now and beyond the pandemic.”
Pfizer isn’t the only company working on this front, but some other drugs have struggled in testing to be repurposed for the treatment of COVID-19, slowing the development for an oral therapeutic treatment.
However, Merrick and biotech partner Ridgeback, as well as Roche and Atea Pharmaceuticals, are working on their own treatments as well. With these developments, along with proliferation of the vaccine, health systems will be able to better continue their efforts to curb the disease and its impacts.