Blue-chip pharma company Pfizer Inc. (PFE) has bagged the approval from the U.K. regulators for its COVID-19 antiviral pill Paxlovid, according to Reuters. Following the news, shares jumped 2.4% momentarily, before ending the day up 1.1% at $59.05 on December 31.
Paxlovid is an oral antiviral drug, which contains two active substances. It comes in two separate pills to be taken together twice a day for five days. Paxlovid is a part of a class of drugs called protease inhibitors, which are currently being used to treat patients infected with HIV and hepatitis C virus. These drugs stop the virus from replicating itself and curb the rapid spread of the illness.
U.K. Approves Paxlovid
U.K. has been struggling with rising COVID-19 cases of the Omicron variant, which has high transmissibility. On Thursday, Britain hit a new daily record of fresh COVID-19 cases, as per government records.
On Friday, U.K. health regulator Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the use of Paxlovid for adults aged 18 and above with mild to moderate illness, which can further intensify.
The MHRA has said that the drug is most effective when taken within the first five days of the start of the illness. According to data released by Pfizer in December, Paxlovid provides 90% effectiveness in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in patients with high risk. Recent data suggest that the drug retains its effectiveness even against the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
U.K. has purchased more than 2.75 million courses of Paxlovid. Earlier, Britain had approved Merck’s COVID-19 pills. However, its clinical trials showed that the drug provided only 30% effectiveness in preventing hospitalizations and deaths of high-risk patients.
On the occasion, MHRA chief, June Raine, said, “We now have a further antiviral medicine for the treatment of Covid-19 that can be taken by mouth rather than administered intravenously. This means it can be administered outside a hospital setting.”
Overall, the stock has a Moderate Buy consensus rating based on 7 Buys and 11 Holds. The average Pfizer price target of $56.12 implies 5% downside potential to current levels. Shares have gained 60.4% over the past year.
Based on 140 articles over the past seven days, the News Score for Pfizer is currently Positive according to TipRanks’ News Sentiment and Media Buzz Analysis. 88% of the articles have a Bullish Sentiment compared to a sector average of 56%, while 12% of the articles have a Bearish Sentiment compared to a sector average of 44%.