May 3, 2022 - Health

Patients can take more of COVID pill after relapse, Pfizer CEO says

Packages of Paxlovid, Pfizer's COVID-19 pill.

Packages of Paxlovid at MaineHealth in Scarborough Friday, April 1, 2022. Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette, Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Patients who suffer a relapse in COVID-19 symptoms after taking Pfizer's COVID-19 pill Paxlovid should take more of the treatment, Pfizer's chief executive told Bloomberg in an interview.

Why it matters: Paxlovid is a drug authorized to help treat those at high risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms. But some patients are relapsing and experiencing symptoms again.

Driving the news: “Paxlovid does what it has to do: It reduces the viral load,” Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla told Bloomberg. “Then your body is supposed to do the job.”

Yes, but: Bourla said the drug doesn't always clear out the coronavirus during the first run of treatment for unknown reasons.

  • If that happens, patients should seek more of the pill, he said.

The bigger picture: Paxlovid, which originally received emergency use authorization in December for high-risk individuals infected by COVID-19, has been shown to reduce hospitalization risks for vulnerable adults.

The latest: About 80,000 COVID patients were treated with the pill in the U.S. in the week ending on April 22, per CNBC.

  • More than 33,000 locations in the U.S. have a supply of the drug, Bourla said, per CNBC.

Of note: Vice President Kamala Harris, who tested positive for COVID-19 about one week ago, had been taking Paxlovid.

What's next: U.S. government researchers are planning to study how and why COVID patients experience a relapse.

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