The new Paxovir will be a game-changer in the treatment of Covid-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms as it reduces the need for hospitalization and the risk of death by almost 89%, speakers told a seminar scientist yesterday.
But doctors must ensure proper use of the oral antiviral drug to achieve the best outcome, they added.
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Renowned doctors from 42 medical institutions in Bangladesh and 30 other countries participated in the discussion titled “An Update on Antivirals for Covid-19”.
They also praised Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Ltd for the rapid introduction of the world’s first generic version of Paxlovid, developed by Pfizer, under the brand name Paxovir on December 30 last year.
Paxovir can be prescribed to vaccinated and unvaccinated Covid patients aged 12 and over.
Medical specialist, Prof Robed Amin, Line Director of Non-Communicable Disease Control at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), gave the keynote speech at the event organized by Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Ltd in his office of the capital.
“The outcome is best if Paxovir is given to patients three days before the onset of symptoms. It reduces the viral load. The drug has emerged as the lifeline when the new [Omicron] variant,” he said.
Paxovir is a combination of nirmatrelvir, which was designed to interfere with an enzyme the coronavirus uses to reproduce, and ritonavir, an antiviral drug that slows the body’s metabolism of the other drug, he said.
Pfizer laboratory studies have indicated that Paxlovid may work against the Omicron variant, which has spread across the world.
Former DGHS Director General Professor MA Faiz, who joined via video link, said: “To defeat the coronavirus, effective drugs must be applied at the very beginning of the infection.”
Prof. Nazmul Islam, Director of Communicable Disease Control at DGHS, praised Eskayef for bringing the drug to the local market, adding that indiscriminate misuse of the drug should be avoided.
The DGHS will soon publish updated treatment protocols for Covid-19, he informed.
Professor MA Jalil, former chairman of the department of medicine at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, who also joined online, said: “Time will tell how effective new drugs are.”
Professor Khalilur Rahman, head of the department of medicine at Rajshahi Medical College, said some drugs to treat Covid-19 infection had been overused.
Professor MA Hasan Chowdhury, Head of the Department of Medicine at Chattogram Medical College, said: “Paxovir is a breakthrough drug for patients with mild to moderate symptoms.”
Professor GKM Shahiduzzaman, head of the department of medicine at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, said he expected Paxovir to be a breakthrough in ending the pandemic.
Professor Ismail Patwary, former chief of medicine at Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College, said paxovir would be a lifeline for patients over 60 and with co-morbidities.
Mohammad Mujahidul, executive director (marketing and sales) at Eskayef, said the drugmaker would leave no stone unturned to bring all possible Covid drugs to Bangladesh.
Murad Hossain, Senior Director (Medical Affairs) at Eskayef, moderated the discussion.
Paxovir is the second oral Covid treatment drug deployed by Eskayef, which recently marketed the antiviral pill Monuvir.
Paxovir appears to be significantly more effective than monuvir, reducing the risk of hospitalization and death in high-risk patients by 30%.