Canada signs agreements with Pfizer and Merck for COVID-19 antiviral drugs – .

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Canada signs agreement with Pfizer and Merck for COVID-19 antiviral drugs – .


OTTAWA – The federal government has signed agreements with Pfizer and Merck for the purchase of their antiviral drugs, pending approval of the products by Health Canada.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi said Ottawa had placed an initial order for one million antiviral pills from Pfizer and 500,000 from Merck, with an option for another 500,000.

Tassi made the announcement at a press conference on Friday.

“As soon as these drugs are approved for use, the government will work to get them to the provinces and territories as quickly as possible so that health care providers can help those Canadians who need them the most,” Tassi said.

“I will continue to work to make sure we have the supplies Canada needs to complete the fight against COVID-19.”

Pfizer on Wednesday launched a continuous submission to Health Canada of its drug PAXLOVID, for use in mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 in adults at increased risk of hospitalization or death.

His trial recruited non-hospitalized adults aged 18 and older.

The drugmaker said in a press release that the pill is designed to block the activity of a SARS-CoV-2 enzyme which is essential for the virus to replicate, and also helps slow the breakdown of the ingredients of the pill to help fight the virus longer. Part of the pill uses ritonavir, an existing medicine that has already been used in combination with other antiviral medicines.

Merck submitted its application for approval of its twice-daily drug molnupiravir in August. The antiviral agent is intended for use in people 18 years of age and older and should be taken five days after the onset of symptoms of COVID-19.

The Merck study followed 775 adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 who were considered to be at higher risk for serious illness due to health conditions such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease. Of the patients taking molnupiravir, 7.3 percent were either hospitalized or died within 30 days, compared with 14.1 percent of those who received the placebo.

Health Canada has already approved four COVID-19 treatments. They include: remdesivir, bamlanivimab, the combination casirivimab and imdevimab, and sotrovimab.

Tassi said antivirals should be seen as a “supplement” to vaccines.

“This is another tool we have to lead this fight against COVID-19. This does not in any way take away the importance of ensuring that one is vaccinated but it is an important tool because it prevents, for those who are infected with COVID-19, from having effects and impacts ” , said the minister.

Duclos further clarified that therapeutics is the government’s fourth tool in the toolbox, after personal protective equipment, tests and vaccines.

He said these treatments are not only beneficial to patients, but also to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

Health Canada’s chief medical adviser Dr Supriya Sharma said approval will not be granted until all the evidence has been reviewed.

With a dossier from Brooklyn Neustaeter, Avis Favaro and Elizabeth St. Philip

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