Pfizer, one of the companies behind the first COVID-19 vaccine approved in the United States, announced Tuesday that it is currently testing an oral drug that would treat the coronavirus.
The company said in a statement that it is currently in a Phase 1 trial for the oral antiviral therapeutic, which employs the same kind of technology used to treat HIV and hepatitis C, using inhibitors to bind enzymes to prevent the virus from replicating.
"Tackling the COVID-19 pandemic requires both prevention via vaccine and targeted treatment for those who contract the virus," the company's chief science officer Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD., said in a statement. "Given the way that SARS-CoV-2 is mutating and the continued global impact of COVID-19, it appears likely that it will be critical to have access to therapeutic options both now and beyond the pandemic."
Dr. Dolsten said that the company has designed the pill, known as PF-07321332, to be prescribed and taken "at the first sign of infection," and noted that alongside the intraveinous treatment the company is testing for hospitalized patients, "the two have the potential to create an end to end treatment paradigm that complements vaccination in cases where disease still occurs."
In pre-clinical trials, the company said, the pill "demonstrated potent in vitro anti-viral activity against SARS-CoV-2, as well as activity against other coronaviruses, suggesting potential for use in the treatment of COVID-19 as well as potential use to address future coronavirus threats."
Pfizer said the company will share more pre-clinical data regarding the pill on April 6.