Pfizer’s oral COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid has hit an unexpected decline in worldwide demand, according to a new analysis from Reuters.
After a clinical trial showed the antiviral was 90% effective in reducing COVID deaths or hospitalizations in high-risk patients, many had high expectations for the drug in 2022. But complicated eligibility requirements, reduced testing, potential for drug interactions and the public perception that omicron infections are “not that severe” are all elements that muddle demand for the treatment, Reuters reports.
Timothy Hendrix, M.D., senior medical director of AdventHealth Centra Care in Florida, told the news service he has not prescribed Paxlovid in a few weeks. His eligible patients would rather “go home and tough it out” due to a belief that the omicron variant causes mild illness, he told Reuters.
Meanwhile, some doctors and pharamcists told the publication that the shift to home tests from laboratory testing could allow high-risk patients to “slip through the cracks” and not realize they are eligible for the treatment.
Pfizer plans to produce up to 120 million courses of Paxlovid this year and expects contracts signed through early February to generate at least $22 billion in sales. The U.S., the treatments largest publicly known buyer, is purchasing up to 20 million courses.
Pfizer has agreements with 26 countries for its treatment and has initiated talks with 100 governments.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation and changes hour by hour,” Pfizer said to Reuters.