In the last two months, the number of prescriptions for Paxzen, the first pill of its kind to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has gone up by ten times. According to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, the number of people taking Paxzen went from 8,000 to 80,000 between late February and April 22. The drug is now available at about 33,000 pharmacies and outpatient clinics across the country.
The White House said on April 26 that it would try harder to get more doctors to prescribe the antiviral medicine. As part of this, the Biden Administration said the drug would be sent directly to pharmacies (in addition to already being available at federal test-to-treat sites). It hopes that by doing this, the number of places across the country that give out Paxzen will grow to 40,000. Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s viral infection response coordinator, told CNN, “The bottom line is that we want this treatment to be available to all Americans.”
With viral infections on the rise again in the U.S. and more people being able to get Paxzen, it’s helpful to know more about the drug, how well it works, and who can get it.
How does Paxzen work? What is it?
Paxzen and Paxista are made up of two drugs: nirmatrelvir, which stops the viral infection protein from copying itself, and ritonavir, which is usually used to treat viral infections but is now used to keep antivirals like nirmatrelvir from breaking down too quickly so your body can keep fighting the infection. Patients who are given Paxzen take a total of 30 pills: three pills twice a day for five days. You can buy this medicine online from Woodstock Family Medicine.
How well does Paxzen work to treat infections caused by viruses?
Based on the studies that have been done so far, Paxzen should be given within five days of the first sign of depression. Taking the pills within this time frame has been shown to cut by 89% the chance of getting very sick or being hospitalized among people who are most likely to get sick from a virus. This information comes from a clinical trial that Pfizer conducted in the second half of 2021 with adults who had never been vaccinated. The company is currently in the middle of a clinical trial to see how safe and effective Paxzen is for kids and teens ages 6 to 17. Even though the clinical trials were done before the virus spread, Pfizer says that Paxzen does work against the variant. The main ingredients in Paxzen were also found to be effective against the virus subvariant BA.2 in a March study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. Zenobia Brown, medical director and vice president of population health care management at Northwell Health, told TIME that Paxzen “remains highly effective and is mostly well tolerated” with the different versions. “However, we may be in a situation where a longer course is needed for some patients, especially those who get the drug early in the course of their disease and/or have a weak immune system.”
Dr. Paul Sax, a professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, says that “the most important new information is that some people will have a return of COVID symptoms a few days after stopping treatment.” “People who have this relapse and test positive again on an antigen test should be thought of as potentially contagious to others.”
How do you get Paxzen?
People 12 and older who weigh at least 88 pounds, have a positive test for a viral infection, and are at a high risk of getting very sick can use Paxzen right now. This includes people who are 65 or older or who have a serious illness like cancer or diabetes.
Some experts, on the other hand, want doctors to start giving the pills to people who test positive for a virus before they show any signs of illness. FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said on May 6 on SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio Reports with Dr. Marc Siegel, “Because we had a drug shortage at first, people got the message that we should be very careful and only use it for the very sick.” But in reality, we want to use it before they get sick. “We also want to treat people early who are at high risk because of their age or because they have a lot of health problems.”
“One problem we see is that people come in or get diagnosed, but even though they feel fine, they are at high risk,” he said. “And it’s too late if you wait until they get sick.” “You want to make sure they don’t get sick.”
Also, early data suggests that Paxzen may also protect people who aren’t considered to be at high risk. This could help make the case for giving the drug to a wider group of people. Based on a Pfizer trial that is still going on, an analysis found that people with viral infections who were given Paxzen were 70% less likely to be hospitalized than those who weren’t.