First batch of Pfizer's Paxlovid pill for Covid-19 treatment arrives in S'pore

Paxlovid was granted interim authorisation by the HSA on Feb 3 under the Pandemic Special Access Route.

PHOTO: PFIZER SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - The first batch of Pfizer's antiviral oral pill, Paxlovid, arrived in Singapore this week, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Saturday (Feb 12).

The drug is the first oral anti-viral medicine that has been approved by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for the treatment of Covid-19 infections here.

It will be prescribed and prioritised for those at higher risk of severe Covid-19 illness, Mr Ong said in a Facebook post.

He added: "With more treatment options, we are now in a better position to provide good care to Singaporeans infected with Covid-19."

The drug was granted interim authorisation by the HSA on Feb 3 under the Pandemic Special Access Route. The first shipment arrived in Singapore on Friday (Feb 11) according to a Facebook post by Pfizer Singapore.

It will be used for the treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 in adult patients who are at high risk of progression to severe disease, to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death.

The drug has to be taken twice daily for five days, and should be given as soon as possible within five days of the onset of Covid-19 symptoms.

HSA said it has reviewed available clinical data for the drug and found that it could reduce Covid-19-related hospitalisation or death by 88.9 per cent when given within three days from the onset of symptoms.

The efficacy rate was 87.8 per cent when given within five days of symptoms appearing.

HSA noted that there were generally low numbers of cases with side effects in Pfizer’s clinical study.

Common side effects reported were mild to moderate, such as altered sense of taste, diarrhoea, vomiting, hypertension, muscle pain and chills.

HSA said Paxlovid may interact with various medications, such as medicines for irregular heart rate, migraine and cholesterol, leading to serious side effects.

Urging doctors prescribing Paxlovid to carefully consider the potential for drug interactions, HSA said some drugs, such as medicines for epileptic seizures, could also reduce the level of Paxlovid and lower antiviral efficacy.

Countries such as South Korea, Britain and Israel have already started administering Paxlovid to coronavirus patients from this month. China has also granted emergency approval for the drug.

Meanwhile, the pill has also been approved by the the United States’ Food and Drug Administration, along with Molnupiravir, another antiviral pill that the HSA is currently reviewing.

Clinical trials have shown that the latter can halve the likelihood of dying or being hospitalised for those at risk of severe illness.

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