Two brand new COVID-19 pills believed to be important weapons against the pandemic in the US are in short supply and play little role in the fight against the pandemic. Omicron waves of infections.
The problem is that production is not at its maximum yet and the pill considered far superiorPfizer, takes six to eight months to produce.
While supply is expected to improve significantly in the coming months, doctors are on the hunt for pills now, not just because Omicron is causing an explosion but because the two antibody drugs used to be treatments usually don’t work effectively for the variant.
“It must be a really fun time now that we have highly effective antiviral drugs,” said Erin McCreary, a pharmacist and administrator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Instead, this is like the hardest and most tumultuous phase of the pandemic.”
The pill — and other COVID-19 drugs, for that matter — is being carefully curated, reserved for the most at-risk patients.
Dr Myron Cohen, a virologist from the University of North Carolina, said: “January is going to be a terrible month with a million cases a day. “Most people will do perfectly well, but we have to pick out the people who don’t and give them the drugs that we have available.”
The Food and Drug Administration has authorized these two drugs from Pfizer and Merck end of last month based on studies that show they cut the risk of severe illness and death when given soon after symptoms appear. This is the first COVID-19 treatment that patients can perform at home, and thus could ease the burden on hospitals.
The US hasn’t done the same kind of mass-buying it used to with vaccines.
Because Pfizer’s pill takes a long time to produce, PaxlovidThe company says it can only deliver about 250,000 treatments by the end of this month. The US has already ordered enough Paxlovid to treat 20 million people, but the first 10 million of those orders won’t be delivered until June.
This week, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zient said the government has partnered with Pfizer to help expedite the pill development process by several months, and officials continue to work with the company to find way to promote production. Pfizer said it is adding more capacity: “We expect to use our strong manufacturing capabilities and extensive supplier network to continue to rapidly improve production.”
Merck’s Pills, molnupiravireasier to manufacture and available in larger quantities. But final testing found it to be much less effective than Pfizer’s oral pill and carries significant risks, including the possibility of birth defects, when taken by pregnant women. Therefore, it is considered a last resort under federal guidelines. Merck said it has delivered 900,000 packs of the drug and is on track to ship all 3 million US orders by the end of the month.
Since last month, the government has sent the states enough Pfizer to treat 164,000 people, distributed by population. That approach is being opposed by some states with heavier lychees.
The money allocated to New York – enough to treat about 20,000 people – is not enough, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said. “We need more of these drugs to make them change the course of the pandemic and reduce hospitalizations,” she said.
State guidelines often recommend that doctors prioritize medications for those most at risk, including cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, and people with lung disease or who are pregnant. The New York guidelines also recommend prioritizing certain races and minorities, due to their higher rates of severe illness and death.
Countries are distributing drugs differently.
In Michigan, all initial shipments went to 10 pharmacies in the hardest-hit areas. Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas and many other states have distributed the drug more widely, so that at least one pharmacy in each county carries the drug.
Despite the strict prescribing guidelines, some patients were able to get the pills through luck and perseverance. Craige Campbell, a site manager from Desert Hot Springs, California, started texting back to her doctor shortly after testing positive for COVID-19 and developing a fever of 101°F. Despite having no medical condition. In basic health, he was soon able to receive a prescription. The only pharmacy that dispensed the medication was more than an hour’s drive away, so Campbell asked a friend to pick him up. “In a way, I feel a little privileged,” he said. “The likelihood that it will land in my plate in the appropriate amount of time is quite extraordinary.”
At the same time, there is a lack of antibodiesInfusions or injections of drugs can lead to death and hospitalization. Only one of them, from GlaxoSmithKline, is effective against omicrons and it is also being classified. Federal officials are limiting its shipments to about 50,000 doses per week. This week, the government announced it would purchase 600,000 more doses, higher than the 400,000 doses it bought in November.
At the UPMC hospital system in Pennsylvania, staff can treat fewer than 1,000 patients a week with antibodies, down from 4,000 previously during the pandemic.
Doctors and nurses across the United States have developed sophisticated means of deciding who should get the scarce drug, based on a patient’s symptoms, their potential medical risks, where they are alive and whether they are healthy enough to receive transfusions. “What do we have in hand?” is the first question, said Dr. Greg Schrank of the University of Maryland Medical Center. “Of those therapies, which is the most effective and how can we direct it to the people we know are most at risk?”
An increasingly complex treatment picture emerges as exhausted, frustrated hospital staff try to cope with the growing number of hospitalizations.
As of Sunday, nearly 128,000 Americans have been hospitalized with COVID-19, surpassing the all-time high of about 125,000 last January. While fewer and fewer COVID-19 patients need intensive care, this increase is pushing hospitals to breaking point. Considering that threat, Pfizer’s pill came at the right time, according to Schrank.
“It won’t change the situation in terms of total cases, but it could really help ease the impact on hospitals,” he said.
AP writers Bobby Calvan of New York and David Eggert of Lansing, Mich. Contributed to this story.
https://time.com/6139151/covid-drug-shortages/ The US is facing a shortage of COVID-19 drugs due to the wrath of Omicron