COVID-19 tablets are in short supply in the United States due to the manufacturing period of several months-nationwide

The two new COVID-19 pills, which were considered important weapons against pandemics in the United States, are deficient and play little role in the fight against the infectious Omicron wave.

Part of the problem is that production is still increasing and it can take 5-8 months to manufacture a drug.

Supply is expected to improve dramatically in the coming months, but doctors are now saying that not only is Omicron causing the case to explode, but the two antibody drugs that were once used for treatment do not work well. I’m looking for tablets against variants.

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Erin McCreeley, a pharmacist and administrator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said: “Instead, this feels like the most difficult and chaotic spread of a pandemic.”

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Pills (and, for that matter, other COVID-19 drugs) are carefully distributed and reserved for the highest risk patients.

“January will be a terrible month with one million cases a day,” said Dr. Myron Cohen, a virologist at the University of North Carolina. “Most people will work perfectly, but we need to choose those who don’t and give them the medicines we can use.”

The Food and Drug Administration approved two tablets from Pfizer and Merck at the end of last month, based on a study showing that it reduces the risk of severe illness and death when given immediately after symptoms appear. These are the first COVID-19 treatments that patients can receive at home and can therefore reduce the burden on the hospital.

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Potential role of antiviral drugs in the fight against COVID-19

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The United States did not buy in large quantities in advance like vaccines.

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Pfizer’s pill, Paxrovid, is considered to be far superior to Merck’s pill, but it takes 6 to 8 months to manufacture, so the company says it can only offer about 250,000 courses by the end of this month. Says.

The United States has ordered enough Paxlovid to treat 20 million people, but the first 10 million orders will not be delivered until June.

Jeff Seiens, COVID-19 coordinator at the White House, said this week the government is working with Pfizer to reduce pill development by a few months, and authorities are still working with Pfizer to find ways to increase production. Said that.

Pfizer said it is adding production capacity. “We look forward to continuing to improve production rapidly, leveraging our strong manufacturing capabilities and extensive supplier network.”

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Molnupiravir, a Merck tablet, was produced in higher pre-production volumes. It takes 6 months to manufacture, but it can be compressed to 5 months if necessary.

However, final tests have shown that the drug is much less effective than Pfizer’s pills and carries significant risks, including the possibility of birth defects when taken by pregnant women. As a result, it is considered the last choice option under federal guidelines.

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Merck said it will offer 900,000 courses of medicine and will ship all 3 million courses ordered by the United States by the end of the month.

Since last month, the government has sent enough Pfizer pills to the state to treat 164,000 people, allocating them by population. That approach has been attacked by several states with heavier case loads.

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Merck begins manufacturing COVID-19 antivirals in Whitby, Ontario.

Merck begins manufacturing COVID-19 antivirals in Whitby, Ontario – December 6, 2021

Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said the amount allocated to New York (enough to treat about 20,000 people) was inadequate.

“We need more of these drugs to change the course of the pandemic and reduce hospitalization,” she said.

State guidelines generally recommend that doctors prioritize medications for those at high risk, such as cancer patients, transplant recipients, people with lung disease or those who are pregnant. New York guidelines also recommend prioritizing certain racial and ethnic minorities, given the high rates of severe illness and death.

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The state distributes pills differently.

In Michigan, all initial shipments were sent to 10 pharmacies in the most devastated areas. In Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas, and many other states, tablets are more widely distributed, so at least one pharmacy in each county handles the drug.

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Despite strict prescribing guidelines, some patients were able to get tablets due to luck and tenacity.

Craig Campbell, website manager for Desert Hot Springs, California, began leaving a message to doctors shortly after a positive COVID-19 test and a fever of 101 degrees. He had no underlying health, but he was able to receive a prescription immediately.

The only pharmacy dispensing the drug was more than an hour away by car, so Campbell had a friend pick it up.

“I felt a little privileged in a way,” he said. “It was quite unusual for it to land on my plate in the right time.”

At the same time, there is a shortage of antibody drugs, infused or injected drugs that can prevent death and hospitalization. Only one of GlaxoSmithKline appears to be effective against Omicron, which is also distributed.

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Canada signs contract for 1.5 million courses of Pfizer, Merck COVID-19 antivirals

Canada signs contract for 1.5 million courses of Merck COVID-19 antivirals – Pfizer, December 3, 2021

Federal authorities limit it to about 50,000 times a week. This week, the government announced that it would buy another 600,000 in addition to the 400,000 that it bought in November.

The UPMC Hospital System in Pennsylvania allows staff to treat less than 1,000 patients a week with antibodies. This is down from the initial 4,000 people in the pandemic.

Doctors and nurses throughout the United States are based on the patient’s symptoms, their underlying medical risks, where they live, and whether they are healthy enough to travel for infusions. We have developed a complex means of deciding who should take the missing drug.

“What do you have?” Dr. Greg Schrank of the University of Maryland Medical Center said it was the first question. “What are the most effective of these treatments and how can you direct them to those who are known to be at the highest risk?”

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Increasingly complex treatment situations emerge when exhausted and frustrated hospital workers try to manage an increasing number of hospitalizations.

As of Sunday, about 128,000 Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19, up from a record high of about 125,000 in January last year. Currently, fewer COVID-19 patients require intensive care, but the surge has pushed hospitals to the limit.

Given that threat, Pfizer’s pills arrived just in time, Schrank said.

“It’s not going to change the flow of the total number of cases, but it may really help reduce the impact on the hospital,” he said.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

COVID-19 tablets are in short supply in the United States due to the manufacturing period of several months-nationwide

Source link COVID-19 tablets are in short supply in the United States due to the manufacturing period of several months-nationwide

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