Pharmac negotiates deal with Pfizer for its promising new oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19

Media release Medicines

Pharmac has negotiated an agreement with the supplier Pfizer for its promising new oral antiviral treatment to treat COVID-19.

“Getting vaccinated is the best defence against COVID-19. We are pleased that we have secured an additional treatment to help those who become unwell,” says Pharmac’s Chief Executive Sarah Fitt. “The signed agreement is for supply of 60,000 courses, giving Kiwis another line of defence against the virus.”

Pfizer is reporting that interim results from its clinical trial were promising for those who were treated within three days of symptom onset. The results showed that the treatment reduced the risk of hospitalisation by 89 per cent for adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 at high risk of progressing to severe illness.

“The antiviral treatment will need to be taken twice a day for five days by those people in the early stages of infection. While only interim results are currently available, we are hopeful this treatment, when approved, will reduce the severity of the illness and keep New Zealanders out of hospital,” says Sarah.

This is Pharmac’s second advance purchase agreement for an antiviral to treat mild to moderate cases of COVID-19, with an agreement also signed with Merck Sharpe and Dohme for molnupiravir in October. Treatments for COVID-19 are paid by funding allocated by Government to make sure that New Zealand can access new COVID-19 treatments.

“Our agreement is subject to Pfizer getting Medsafe approval for the treatment to be used in New Zealand,” says Sarah. “Once this occurs, New Zealanders will be able to receive the treatment throughout 2022.”