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Anti-Covid pill Paxlovid to be in French pharmacies by end of January

It has been found to reduce hospitalisation and death rates in high-risk patients by up to 89%

Paxlovid is an antiviral pill that helps to prevent serious forms of Covid, and is to be taken twice a day for five days Pic: rarrarorro / Shutterstock

A new pill to combat Covid, made by American pharmaceutical company Pfizer, will be available in French pharmacies by the end of January, France’s health minister has said. 

Paxlovid has been found to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death from Covid by up to 89%, data from clinical trials show. 

Health Minister Olivier Véran said on January 10 that he is expecting two shipments of the pills to be in French pharmacies by the end of January.

What is Paxlovid? 

It is an antiviral pill that works to reduce the coronavirus’ capacity to replicate. It is to serve as a complement to vaccines, and will be used on patients who are suffering from bad symptoms, before they are hospitalised or taken to intensive care units. 

It is to be taken twice a day for five days, in addition to a second medicine called ritonavir, another antiviral pill used for HIV. 

The treatment reduces the risk of hospitalisation and death in high-risk adults by up to 89% in the three days following symptoms, a study by Pfizer published in November 2021 shows. 

It was given emergency approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use in the EU on December 16, 2021. 

A final decision on full marketing approval by the EMA is expected in the coming weeks. 

More information on its roll-out in France is also expected to be announced shortly. 

Paxlovid is not the only anti-Covid pill. The EMA has also launched a rolling review of molnupiravir, an antiviral pill developed by US company Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Read more: New antiviral Covid pill to be reviewed by EU medicines agency

Paxlovid: Made in France (partly)

Paxlovid pills will be partly made in France, with production planned in Mourenx, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. 

Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, said that the company has announced a “major investment plan” in France, worth up to €520million over five years.

Read more: Ikea, Pfizer, pet care: France confirms €4bn in new foreign investment

He told BFMTV yesterday (January 17) that the majority of the investment will be allocated in partnership with Novasep, a group of companies involved in pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical technologies in France. 

This will involve the production of the active pharmaceutical ingredient of the drug to supply to the world. 

The US has now made an order for 20 million of the pills, doubling its initial order. 

President Joe Biden has said that some 250,000 courses of treatment will be available in the US by the end of January. 

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