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First antiviral pills to treat Covid-19 set to be available in Spain

The Local Spain
The Local Spain - [email protected]
First antiviral pills to treat Covid-19 set to be available in Spain
Paxlovid pills to arrive in Spain. Photo: GEORGE FREY / AFP

Paxlovid, the oral antiviral pill which helps reduce the risk of hospitalisation from Covid-19 by 90 percent, is set to arrive in Spain in the coming days.

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The Spanish Ministry of Health is set to sign an agreement this Thursday to receive the pills, which were developed by  Pfizer, the same pharmaceutical company that developed Spain's most widely used Covid-19 vaccines.

According to scientists, if the antiviral pills are administered in the first few days after infection in people with mild symptoms, they can reduce hospitalisations of people at risk by around 90 percent.

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Starting next week, the pills will be able to be administered to infected patients throughout the country. At first, they will mainly be given to those patients who are at risk of developing serious complications from Covid-19.

Paxlovid in Europe

In January, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorised the use of the Paxlovid drug and the Spanish government preordered 350,000 doses.

The first doses have already arrived in nearby countries such as France and Italy.

Paxlovid will be the first orally-administered antiviral drug used in the EU to treat Covid-19.

Pfizer has said that this oral treatment is also effective against the omicron variant. According to the company, the studies suggest that the treatment "has the potential to maintain plasma concentrations much higher than the amount necessary to prevent omicron from replicating in cells". 

Pricey pills

The antiviral drugs come with a hefty price tag and will be costing Spain’s healthcare system €700 for each set of the 30 pills that complete a five-day course of treatment.

In order to pay for it, the Council of Ministers had to approve an agreement to be able to use a contingency fund and a loan of €253.4 million, intended for the acquisition of medical supplies to fight against Covid-19, including Paxlovid.

It is not yet known whether Paxlovid will be available to purchase in pharmacies and what the cost will be to the patient.

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