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From Merck to Pfizer… Fierce competition for edible corona treatment

[뉴스워치= 김민수 기자] As the world is suffering from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), interest in ‘eatable corona treatment’ is growing, which is expected to change the current situation in an instant.

As Pfizer recently jumped into the competition to develop an oral treatment that began when Merck & Company (MSD) announced the results of an interim clinical trial for ‘molnupiravir’ last month, governments and pharmaceutical industries are keen to see which global pharmaceutical company will take the lead. is focusing on

According to the pharmaceutical industry and stock market on the 8th, Pfizer is conducting a clinical trial by taking ‘PF-07321332’ (trademark name: Paxrovid), which is being developed as an oral treatment for COVID-19, and ritonavir, which is used as an AIDS treatment, together. did.

The clinical trial was conducted with non-hospitalized patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 and other diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

As a result, 674 patients who took Paxrovid within 3 days after symptom onset were followed for 28 days, and the preventive effect was 89% in the prevention of hospitalization and death. Not a single fatality was reported.

Even if 1219 patients were analyzed by expanding the dosing range to less than 5 days, it is known that the preventive effect was 85% in the prevention rate of hospitalization and death.

According to Pfizer’s announcement, the effect was much superior to that of Merck’s molnupiravir, which previously announced the results of a clinical trial for an oral treatment for COVID-19.

Molnupiravir also reported no deaths, but the hospitalization and mortality prevention rate was about 50%.

Oral treatment./Photo courtesy of Yonhap News

The reason why such oral therapeutics are attracting attention is that patient convenience is greatly improved, unlike existing intravenous drugs. As a representative example, oral treatment is expected to be of great help to patients receiving home treatment.

In particular, if an oral therapeutic agent that helps to treat patients with mild or moderate severity is commercialized, it will be possible to secure conditions for medical facilities that can intensively treat COVID-19 patients in a more serious condition. This is the reason why governments around the world are competing in advance for oral treatment contracts.

The problem is the high price. When Merck signed a contract to supply molnupiravir with the US government, it set the price for a five-day treatment at $700 (about 830,000 won). Pfizer is also expected to launch an oral treatment at a similar price to Merck.

Nevertheless, the government’s ‘love call’ for oral treatment continues. The Korean government is also in the position to complete the contract for the pre-purchase of 404,000 oral treatments within this month.

The Central Safety Countermeasures Headquarters has signed a contract with Merck to purchase supplies for 20 thousand people and Pfizer for 70,000 supplies, and has set a policy to close the supply for the remaining 134,000 people soon.

Development of a vaccine and treatment for COVID-19./Photo provided by Yonhap News
Development of a vaccine and treatment for COVID-19./Photo provided by Yonhap News

As news of the imminent commercialization and introduction of oral therapeutics became known, the stock prices of domestic companies that are producing COVID-19 vaccines on consignment or making intravenous drugs fell all at once.

Samsung Biologics, SK Bioscience, and Celltrion are among the leading companies in Korea related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

As of 11 am on the 8th, Samsung Biologics is trading at 810,000 won, down 6.25% (54,000 won) from the previous day, and SK Biosciences is on sale at 228,000 won, down 11.28% (29,000 won). are doing

In the case of Celltrion, it is trading at 194,500 won, down 6.94% (14,500 won). Celltrion, whose stock price soared to about 396,000 won in December 2020, is showing a downward trend every day.

Park Byeong-guk, a researcher at NH Investment & Securities, said in a related report, “If you look at the stock prices of COVID-19 vaccine companies such as Moderna, Biontech, and Novavax that all experienced a sudden drop in their stock prices due to the Molnupiravir shock in early October, Novavax and Biontech were It has recovered to above the 30-day closing price,” he said.

“The rise and fall of the stock price of vaccine development companies should not determine the need for a vaccine,” he said. do,” he added.

Reporter Kim Min-soo [email protected]

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