Pfizer Inc. said on Tuesday that he has begun to test a covid-19 oral medication, which, if it is shown that it works safely, could provide the doctors with another tool to treat patients.
Researchers are enrolling 60 healthy subjects to evaluate the safety of different doses of treatment. If the results are positive, Pfizer would see if the treatment works safely in people infected with Covid-19.
The medication is already under evaluation in a separate study that observes its safety as an intravenous treatment in a Pfizer trial began the last fall.
The Pfizer medication is known as a protease inhibitor because researchers believe that it blocks a key enzyme, known as protease, which helps replicate viruses. Both versions of the medication are based on a discovery made in 2003 when Pfizer searched for antivirals during the SARS epidemic. The enzymes of the SARS-COV-2 virus that cause COVID-19 are similar to the other SARS virus, according to Pfizize.
“The oral is a very different ball game,” said Executive Director of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, in a recent interview, “because oral you can use it in ambulatory patients, you can prescribe it and take it home.”
More than a year in the pandemic, there is a limited number of treatments available for people diagnosed with COVID-19. The only antiviral authorized by the Food and Drug Administration is remDesivir by Gilead Sciences Inc., and has shown to provide only a modest benefit in hospitalized patients, reducing their stays in several days. A promising antiviral of Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP is found in late stage tests, with the provisional results expected soon.