May 4, 2022 - Health

FDA: “No evidence” second Pfizer COVID pill stops repeat symptoms, contradicting CEO

A box of the Pfizer COVID pill Paxlovid.
Pfizer's Paxlovid pill. Photo: Europa Press - C.Lujan/Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official said Wednesday that there is "no evidence" that a second round of the Pfizer COVID pill Paxlovid will help patients who suffer a relapse in symptoms.

Why it matters: The FDA’s comments contradict Pfizer chief executive officer Albert Bourla, who said patients experiencing COVID-19 symptoms after their first treatment can take more of the pill.

What they’re saying: "There is no evidence of benefit at this time for a longer course of treatment or repeating a treatment course of Paxlovid," John Farley, director of the Office of Infectious Diseases in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

  • Farley reiterated that Paxlovid "reduces the risk of hospitalization and death for patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 at high risk of disease progression" and is "expected to be effective against the Omicron variant."

Flashback: Bourla told Bloomberg that Paxlovid "reduces the viral load" but doesn’t always clear the coronavirus out of people’s systems.

  • When that happens, people should take more of the drug, he said.

The bigger picture: Paxlovid, which received emergency use authorization from the FDA in December, has been shown to reduce hospitalization risks for vulnerable adults who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms.

  • U.S. government researchers plan to research how and why COVID-19 patients relapse after taking the drug, Bloomberg reports.
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