Published date: 06-Feb-2022
Source: The Daily Star

New Paxovir will be a game-changer

Source: The Daily Star

The new Paxovir will be a game changer in treating Covid-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms as it reduces the need for hospitalisation and risk of death by almost 89 percent, said speakers at a scientific seminar yesterday.

But physicians must ensure proper use of the oral antiviral drug to get the best outcome, they added.

Renowned physicians of 42 medical institutions from Bangladesh and 30 other countries participated at the discussion titled "An Update on Antivirals for Covid-19".

They also lauded Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Ltd for the fast-pace introduction of the world's first generic version of Paxlovid, developed by Pfizer, with the brand name Paxovir on December 30 last year.

Paxovir can be prescribed to both vaccinated and unvaccinated Covid patients aged 12 and over.

Medicine specialist Prof Robed Amin, line director of the Non Communicable Disease Control at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), presented the keynote paper at the event organised by Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Ltd in its office in the capital.

"The outcome is better if Paxovir is given to patients three days within the onset of symptoms. It reduces the viral load. The drug has emerged as the lifesaver during the emergence of the new [Omicron] variant," he said.

Paxovir is a combination of nirmatrelvir, which was designed to interfere with an enzyme the coronavirus uses to make copies of itself, and ritonavir, an antiviral that slows down the body's metabolism of the other medication, he said.

Pfizer's laboratory studies indicated that Paxlovid is likely to work against the Omicron variant, which has spread across the world.

Former DGHS director general Prof MA Faiz who joined via video link said, "To win over the coronavirus, effective drugs should be applied at the very beginning of the infection."

Prof Nazmul Islam, director of communicable disease control at the DGHS, lauded Eskayef for introducing the drug in the local market, adding that misuse and indiscriminate use of the drug should be avoided.

The DGHS will soon publish updated treatment protocols for Covid-19, he informed.

Prof MA Jalil, former chairman of the medicine department at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, who also joined online, said, "Time will tell how effective the new drugs are."

Prof Khalilur Rahman, head of medicine department at Rajshahi Medical College, said some drugs to treat Covid-19 infection have been overused.

Prof MA Hasan Chowdhury, head of medicine department at Chattogram Medical College, said, "Paxovir is a groundbreaking drug for patients with mild to moderate symptoms."

Prof GKM Shahiduzzaman, head of medicine department at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, said he expected Paxovir to be a breakthrough in ending the pandemic.

Prof Ismail Patwary, former head of medicine at Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College, said Paxovir would be a lifesaver for patients older than 60 and have comorbidity.

Mohammad Mujahidul, executive director (marketing and sales) at Eskayef, said the drug maker will leave no stones unturned to bring all possible Covid drugs to Bangladesh.

Murad Hossain, senior manager (medical affairs) at Eskayef, moderated the discussion.

Paxovir is the second oral Covid treatment drug rolled out by Eskayef, which recently marketed the antiviral pill Monuvir.

Paxovir appears to be substantially more effective than monuvir, which reduced the risk of hospitalisation and death for high-risk patients by 30 percent.