© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Pfizer logo is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this image
(Reuters) – Pfizer Inc (NYSE 🙂 has launched a U.S. early-stage study of oral COVID-19 antiviral therapy that could be prescribed to patients at the first sign of infection, the company said Tuesday.
The drug maker, who worked with German BioNTech SA to develop the first approved COVID-19 vaccine in the US, said the antiviral candidate had shown strong activity against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in laboratory studies .
Pfizer’s candidate, PF-07321332, is a protease inhibitor that prevents the virus from replicating in cells.
Protease inhibitors have been effective in treating other viral pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C virus both alone and in combination with other antiviral agents, the company said.
Pfizer believes that this class of molecules may offer well-tolerated treatments for COVID-19, as therapeutics currently on the market that act on the same lines have not reported safety concerns.
The company is also investigating an intravenously administered antiviral candidate in an early study of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
“Together, the two (oral and intravenous candidates) have the potential to create an end-to-end treatment paradigm that complements vaccination in cases where disease is still present,” said Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief medical officer , in a statement.
Pfizer’s candidate stands behind two other oral antiviral therapies that are in the interim phase – the first was developed by Merck & Co with Ridgeback Bio and a second by Roche Holding (OTC 🙂 and Atea Pharmaceuticals.
Gildes Sciences (NASDAQ 🙂 ‘Remdesivir is currently the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of COVID-19.
The FDA has granted emergency approval for intravenous therapies from Eli Lilly (NYSE 🙂 – bamlanivimab alone and in combination with etesevimab and a combination therapy from Regeneron (NASDAQ :).
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