United States Seeks To Expand Access To COVID-19 Antiviral Pills

The Biden administration is looking for ways to expand access to potential COVID-19 antiviral pills when supply increases in the coming months, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing someone familiar with the plans.

The administration is examining whether Paxlovid, the antiviral from Pfizer Inc, may be commercially available at retail pharmacies if it obtains regulatory clearance, the Journal reported.

Molnupiravir, an oral pill from Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP that is also under regulatory review, could be included in the government’s plan to make it commercially available, the newspaper reported, citing the person.

The United States has agreed to purchase 10 million courses of the drug from Pfizer and has so far obtained 3.1 million courses of the pill from Merck. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing applications for emergency drug use authorization.

Pfizer highlighted its supply agreement with the U.S. government announced Thursday, in response to a request for comment from Reuters. Merck and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not immediately respond.

Both drugs are seen as promising weapons in the fight against the public health crisis, with countries scrambling to secure supply deals after promising data reported by companies.

The US government is pushing drugmakers to ramp up production, the report said, adding that commercial sales could take place when the supply of pills increases. (Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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