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Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, says an oral drug the company is developing to treat the symptoms of COVID-19 could be available to the public later this year.
“If all goes well, and we implement the same speed as us, and if regulators do the same, and they are, I hope (it will be available) by the end of the year,” Bourla told CNBC Squawk Box.
To date, the only antiviral drug authorized for use with COVID-19 is Remdesivir, which is produced by Gilead Sciences and is to be administered by injection in a healthcare setting.
An oral medication like the one Pfizer is developing can be taken at home and can keep people out of the hospital.
“Special attention is paid to the oral because it provides several benefits,” Bourla said. “One of them is that you don’t have to go to the hospital to receive treatment, which is the case with all injectables so far. It could be gotten home and that could change the game.”
The drug could be effective against emerging variants, he said. Pfizer also works on an injectable antiviral drug.
Pfizer, with its European partner BioNTech, developed the first coronavirus vaccine authorized for use in the United States and Europe. The Pfizer pill under development would not be a vaccine to protect people from the virus, but a medicine to treat people who catch the virus.
The company announced in late March that it was beginning clinical trials on the oral drug.
A coronavirus vaccine that could be taken as a pill may go into clinical trials in the second quarter of 2021. The oral vaccine is being developed by Oravax Medical, a new joint venture of the Israeli-American company Oramed and the Indian company Press Biotech. To date, all coronavirus vaccines are injectable.
CNBC.com: “Pfizer’s new home pill to treat Covid could be available later this year, the CEO expects.”
Pfizer: “Pfizer begins phase 1 study of new oral antiviral therapeutic agent against Sars-Cov-2”