Luxembourg in line for 20,000 Pfizer covid pills

Luxembourg has ordered more than 5,700 treatment courses of Merck’s Lagevrio covid-19 drug, pictured Photo: Shutterstock

Luxembourg has ordered more than 5,700 treatment courses of Merck’s Lagevrio covid-19 drug, pictured Photo: Shutterstock

Luxembourg has negotiated the purchase of 20,000 treatment courses of Pfizer’s Paxlovid covid-19 treatment as the drug awaits market authorisation in the EU.

Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill reduces the risk of hospitalisation or death by 89% among adults, the company said last month. The European Medicines Agency on 16 December said countries can start treating adults with covid-19 who are at increased risk of progressing to severe disease while market authorisation is still pending.

A decision by the EMA is expected this month.

Luxembourg in a bilateral agreement has negotiated the purchase of 20,000 courses of the antiviral drug, health minister Paulette Lenert (LSAP) said in answer to a parliamentary question. Paxlovid is meant to be taken for five days soon after onset of symptoms from a coronavirus infection.

Lenert did not disclose the cost of the purchase agreement. A US government contract is priced at $530 per course.

The government has also agreed to the purchase of 5,760 courses of the Lagevrio drug produced by Merck’s. Treatment with Lagevrio reduces hospitalisation or death by 30%, data published by Merck’s in November shows.

Lagevrio (also known as molnupiravir) has also been approved by the EMA for treatment of adults at risk of developing severe covid-19 even though it’s not officially authorised for use in the EU yet.

Similar to the procurement of vaccines against the coronavirus, the EU could support countries in getting their hands on the antiviral drugs through a joint procurement initiative, in addition to contracts already signed directly between the pharma companies and member countries, Lenert said.