Pfizer begins early-stage clinical trial testing oral antiviral drug

Pfizer said Tuesday that it has begun an early-stage clinical trial of an experimental oral antiviral drug for Covid-19.

The New York-based company said a phase one trial of the drug, called PF-07321332, is underway in the United States. The drug is part of a class of drugs called protease inhibitors, and it works by inhibiting an enzyme that the virus needs to replicate in human cells.

Protease inhibitors are used to treat other viral pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C.

“Addressing the COVID-19 pandemic requires both prevention through the vaccine and targeted treatment of those who contract the virus,” Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten said in a press release. “Given the way that SARS-CoV-2 is mutating and the continuing global impact of COVID-19, it seems likely that access to therapeutic options both now and beyond the pandemic is critical.”

The trial comes as Pfizer is also working on an intravenously administered protease inhibitor, known as PF-07304814. That drug is currently in a phase 1b clinical trial in hospitalized Covid-19 patients.

A person walks past the Pfizer Building in New York City on March 2, 2021.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

Pfizer already has a licensed vaccine in the US with German drugmaker BioNTech, but health experts say the world will still need a variety of drugs and vaccines to end the pandemic, which has infected more than 29, 8 million Americans and has killed at least 542,991 in a short time. over a year, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The company said preclinical studies have shown that the oral drug, the first oral protease inhibitor for Covid-19 to be evaluated in clinical studies, demonstrates “potent” antiviral activity against the virus.

Because it is taken by mouth, the drug could be used outside of hospitals for people who have recently been infected with the virus. Researchers hope the drug will stop the disease from progressing and keep people out of the hospital.

Pfizer said it will provide more details on the drug at the Spring American Chemical Society meeting on April 6.


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