Hungary will also buy the coronavirus drug Paxlovid, it was announced on Thursday. Alexandra Szentkirályi, government spokeswoman, said that Hungary will receive doses for 50,000 treatments in the first round. Pfizer’s medicine received official EU approval at the end of January.
This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute.
It has hardly been a few days since the European Medicines Agency approved the drug “Paxlovid” from American company Pfizer.
According to EU Health Commissioner Stella Kiriakidis, this is another important step in the fight against coronavirus, which is the second most important line of defense after vaccination. She stressed that:
Paxlovid is the first oral home treatment for coronavirus, which can be of great help to at-risk patients.”
According to the latest data from a Pfizer clinical trial, the pill reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by nearly 90 percent in high-risk patients. Recent laboratory data also show that it is effective against the Omicron variant.
Paxlovid is already in high demand in Europe: Italy, Germany, and Belgium have already come forward to buy it. According to German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, one million packs of Paxlovid have been ordered for Germany. In the USA, Great Britain, and Canada, for example, the drug has already received approval. The USA has already even reserved 20 million units of it. So far, Pfizer has made 180,000 units of Paxlovid available worldwide.
The EMA is also reviewing another similar coronavirus drug, Molnupiravir, but its approval could take longer than expected. After encouraging initial results, the manufacturer Merck has determined that the drug is less effective.
FactHow is the medicine used? According to the manufacturer, patients take three tablets twice a day for five days. The active ingredient is designed to inhibit a Sars CoV-2 protein, thereby stopping the virus from replicating. Mild side effects may also occur, such as impaired sense of taste, diarrhea, high blood pressure, and muscle pain.
“The product should be taken after the first symptoms appear and are not a substitute for vaccination,” Péter Mátyus, a pharmaceutical researcher and physician at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, stressed to InfoRadio, adding:
Molnupiravir and Paxlovide have taken research and development a major step forward as effective oral treatments. Preclinical and clinical studies have confirmed this, resulting in the FDA granting emergency approval for both drugs for the first time in the United States.”
According to the regulations, Paxlovid is technically already available in Hungary, but when this will be the case in practice depends on “how the drug will be available.”
Criticism of Paxlovid
However, the study reportedly tested the drug only in unvaccinated individuals, so it is still questionable how effective it might be in already vaccinated at-risk individuals. For now, the EMA has given general approval for the pill’s use, so it is not only available to unvaccinated people. Another problem may still mean that the drug must be taken in time to be effective. In many cases, however, you don’t know if you’re infected with Covid until a few days later. On the other hand, the EMA recommends Paxlovid only to adults who are at-risk patients, but at the same time they warn that anti-corona pills could interfere with the effectiveness of other drugs.
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