Different from vaccines, which are administered with a shot and provide immunity via antibody development, many of the new COVID therapeutics are now coming in pill form and are designed to treat the virus rather than prevent it.
Perhaps the most successful non-vaccine COVID-19 drug has been Pfizer’s (NYSE: PFE) orally administered pill PF-07321332 (working name). Pills are known to be more widely accepted than the injections that vaccines require, so Pfizer has high hopes for its acceptance by the general population. It is expected that Pfizer will market its new COVID pill under the brand name Paxlovid.
The pill is still going through human trials but has thus far shown very positive results. The company recently announced that the drug reduced the rates of deaths and hospitalization in high-risk adults by 90%. So great were the results (and so dire the need) that independent observers recommended that the remainder of the studies be suspended, and the drug be given fast-track status by the FDA.
Commenting on the announcement, Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s Chairman & CEO, stated:
“Today’s news is a real game-changer in the global efforts to halt the devastation of this pandemic. These data suggest that our oral antiviral candidate if approved or authorized by regulatory authorities has the potential to save patients’ lives, reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections, and eliminate up to nine out of ten hospitalizations. Given the continued global impact of COVID-19, we have remained laser-focused on the science and fulfilling our responsibility to help healthcare systems and institutions around the world while ensuring equitable and broad access to people everywhere.”
After a very well-received COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer has built up a great deal of goodwill among the general population. It’s a name many feel can be trusted to develop effective (and safe) medications to combat the virus. Couple this goodwill and the fact that the new drug comes in pill form, and you have a recipe for a hugely popular product.
As a greater and greater percentage of the population is becoming vaccinated, companies like Pfizer will need to develop new products to supplant the expected decline in revenues. With the pandemic showing no end in sight, and the fact that the medication needs to be taken repeatedly, Pfizer is expecting big things from its new drug.
The company is currently waiting to hear back from regulators on whether or not the drug will be fast-tracked for approval. A decision is expected in the coming weeks. Whenever they are given the green light, Pfizer is ready to mass-produce the drug and get it into the hands of people as soon as possible.
Shares of Pfizer are currently changing hands at $50.89, down -0.39% on the day. YTD PFE stock is up +38.25%.
Wealthy VC does not hold a position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article.