Politics

Groundbreaking Covid anti-viral drug Paxlovid given go-ahead for use in UK



A Covid-19 treatment called Paxlovid has been given the green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the UK Government has announced.

The decision comes after the regulator found the drug was safe and effective at reducing the risks of being admitted to hospital and death in people with mild to moderate coronavirus infection, who are at an increased risk of developing severe disease.

Developed by Pfizer, Paxlovid is an antiviral medicine with a combination of active ingredients, PF-07321332 and ritonavir, that works by inhibiting a protease required for virus replication. This prevents it from multiplying, keeping virus levels low and helping the body to overcome the viral infection.

Two active substances of Paxlovid come as separate tablets that are packaged together and taken together, twice a day by mouth for five days.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The UK has been a world leader at finding and rolling out Covid-19 treatments to patients. This is further proved by the MHRA being one of the first in the world to approve this life-saving antiviral.

“We are also leading the whole of Europe in the number of antivirals we’ve bought per person – with over 2.75 million courses of this antiviral secured for NHS patients by the Antivirals Taskforce.

“The booster campaign, testing and antiviral defences ensure our country is in the strongest possible position to deal with the threat posed by Omicron as we head into the new year.”

The drug has been authorised for use in people aged 18 and above who have mild to moderate Covid-19 infection and at least one risk factor for developing severe illness.

These risk factors include obesity, older age (60 years-old and above), diabetes mellitus, or heart disease.

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