U.S. signs $5.9 billion deal with Pfizer for COVID-19 treatment pill

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U.S. signs $5.9 billion deal with Pfizer for COVID-19 treatment pill

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The U.S. government will pay drugmaker Pfizer nearly $5.3 billion for 10 million treatment courses of its potential COVID-19 treatment if regulators approve it.

Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to authorize the experimental pill, called Paxlovid.

Earlier this month, the company said Paxlovid cut the risk of hospitalization and death by nearly 90% in people with mild to moderate coronavirus infections. The drugmaker studied its pill in people who were unvaccinated and who faced the greatest risk from the virus due to age or health problems, such as obesity.

The FDA is already reviewing a competing pill from Merck and will hold a public meeting on it later this month.

The price for Pfizer’s potential treatment amounts to about $529 per course. The U.S. has already agreed to pay roughly $700 per course of Merck’s drug for about 1.7 million treatments.

Pfizer said Thursday the price being paid by the U.S. government reflects the high number of treatment courses purchased through 2022.

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Pfizer, which also produces a coronavirus vaccine, earlier on Tuesday announced that it has signed a deal with a U.N.-backed group to allow other manufacturers to make the COVID-19 pill, a move that could make the treatment available to more than half of the world’s population. 

Meanwhile, the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it is suspending its enforcement of the Biden administration’s new rules ordering larger employers to either require that their workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.

The federal agency said it is complying with a court ruling that temporarily halts the regulation for big employers, according to the OSHA website where the announcement was first posted.

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