Merck’s Covid-19 pill or Pfizer’s covid pill–which one is more effective?

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November 08, 2021 5:39 PM

The trial results for both the pills have so far shown promising results.

drugsBoth companies have for now released very limited data on the treatments, but have expressed strong confidence in its safety

In a bid to manage coronavirus pandemic situation across the world, Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co have come up with experimental antiviral drugs/pills that may help those with the risk of getting seriously ill with the virus. The trial results for both the pills have so far shown promising results. Both the drugs are currently studied to see if both of them can prevent infection in those exposed to the deadly coronavirus.

Which one of the two pills is more effective?

As per the trial figures presented by the two companies, it is clear that Pfizer has a more effective pill. However, the full data has not been provided by Pfizer so far. Pfizer’s trial result showed that its pill significantly reduces the chances of hospitalisation or severe illness or even death by 89 per cent in patients infected with covid-19 when given within three days of the onset of symptoms while when given within five days of onset can reduce the chance by 85 per cent. Both the ways, chances of fatality remain considerably low.

Meanwhile, speaking of Merck, it said on October 1 that its pill lowered the chance of severe illness, death or hospitalisation by about 50 per cent when the pill is given within five days of covid onset. The company, however, did not give any data on patients getting the drug within three days of covid onset. Pfizer’s drug is named Paxlovid and Merck’s drug has the brand name Lavgevrio in Britain, where it has already won approval by regulators.

What makes these drugs important?

The world is available with the covid vaccine to prevent infection from entering the body while there are limited to no treatment options available for those infected with covid. The drugs will help treat those who are not sick enough for hospitalisation but are at risk of serious illness.

Also Read: Two new oral drugs approved for the Covid treatment; details here

Dosage

Both the drugs will be given to covid patients for five days. While Pfizer’s regimen is three pills in the morning and three pills at night, Merck’s drug (four pills) will be consumed day and night both.

What about safety?

Both companies have for now released very limited data on the treatments, but have expressed strong confidence in its safety. According to Pfizer’s statement, as quoted in the Indianexpress.com, patients who received the pill experienced adverse events, mostly mild. And 1.7 per cent of patients reported serious side effects after receiving the drug and 6.6 per cent of placebo patients. Merck, on the other hand stated, that 12 per cent of patients receiving its drug and 11 per cent of placebo patients had adverse events.

What about the supplies?

Pfizer and Merck, both are said to be making efforts to expand the global reach of its drugs. Pfizer expects to produce more than 1,80,000 courses of its drug by the end of this year, with production of at least 50 million planned for the coming year, 2022. Merck expects to produce 10 million courses of its drug by the end of this year, with at least 20 million set to be produced next year.

Cost of drugs

As per the reports, countries around the world are currently negotiating prices with both Pfizer and Merck. The US government, however, provides vaccines and covid related treatment for free to its residents. President Joe Biden assured the US government has secured millions of doses of Pfizer’s treatment already. “Merck has a $1.2 billion contract to supply the US with 1.7 million courses of its drug – or about $700 per course, reported Indianexpress.com. Meanwhile, Britain has also secured 250,000 courses of Pfizer’s drug, the prices of which are still not in public domain.

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