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Way should be cleared for FDA OK of Paxlovid

We urge the Food and Drug Administration to do whatever is necessary to expedite full regulatory approval for Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill Paxlovid.

The medication has been used by millions of Americans — including many right here in the Upper Peninsula — since the FDA granted it emergency use authorization in late 2021.

Last week, the Associated Press reported, a panel of experts voted 16-1 that Paxlovid remains a safe and effective treatment for high-risk adults with COVID-19 who are more likely to face hospitalization and death due to the virus.

The agency has the final say on giving Pfizer’s drug full approval and is expected to decide by May.

“We still have many groups that stand to benefit from Paxlovid, including unvaccinated persons, under-vaccinated persons, the elderly and the immunocompromised,” said Dr. Richard Murphy of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The FDA said using Paxlovid in high-risk patients could prevent 1,500 COVID-19 deaths and 13,000 hospitalizations per week.

The U.S. continues reporting about 4,000 deaths and 35,000 hospitalizations weekly. Hospitals in our neck of the woods continue to treat COVID-19 patients and the virus continues to kill, although the numbers have dropped considerably since the height of the pandemic.

The federal government purchased more than 20 million doses of Paxlovid and encouraged health professionals to prescribe it aggressively to help prevent severe COVID-19.

That’s how local people received the drug. But that’s led to concerns of overprescribing and questions of whether some patients are needlessly getting the drug, AP reported.

Is Paxlovid a perfect cure for COVID-19? Of course not but the best data out there strongly suggests it helps the most vulnerable among us.

That’s reason enough for the FDA to grant overall approval.

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