Short Supply Limits Access to Newly Authorized COVID-19 Oral Pills
Though the FDA last week authorized the first COVID-19 oral antivirals for at-home use — Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ molnupiravir — access to the pills will be limited in the new year.
This even though the U.S. government has placed a $5.3 billion order for 10 million treatment courses of Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir, ritonavir) for shipments to states through 2022 and a $2.2 billion order for an estimated 3 million treatment courses of molnupiravir for delivery through early next year.
Jeffrey Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, acknowledged in a press briefing that deliveries will be slow to start, especially for Pfizer’s Paxlovid.
“We will have 265,000 treatment courses of Pfizer available in January, with monthly totals of pills ramping up across the year and all 10 million treatment courses delivered by late summer,” said Zients, adding that by contrast at January’s end he anticipates the federal government will be able to deliver all 3 million molnupiravir treatments.