Health Canada green lights use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 therapeutic drug

Pfizer study found the pills helped to significantly reduce hospitalization and death in COVID-19 patients.

Health Canada has approved Pfizer’s oral antiviral treatment to treat mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 in people aged 18 and older.

The federal health agency says to access the prescription-only drug, the person must have a confirmed positive viral test and are at high risk of becoming seriously ill. The medication cannot be used to prevent COVID-19 infections or treat patients who are already hospitalized due to severe COVID-19 cases. The medication cannot be taken for longer than five days in a row.

Pfizer submitted clinical data for the oral medication on Dec. 1, 2021.

The pharmaceutical released the results of their Phase 2/3 trials for the drug last November and said they had found the pills to significantly reduce hospitalization and death in COVID-19 patients.

Health Canada has outlined on its website the detailed instructions for taking this medication.

Side effects can include an altered sense of taste, diarrhea, muscle pain, vomiting, high blood pressure, and headache. Though, given the limited use of this medication to date, the agency cautions that it is possible not all side effects are known at this time and advises speaking with a healthcare professional if other side “troublesome” effects arise.

Health Canada has issued warnings for patients with kidney or liver problems; patients with a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection; patients who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or are planning to become pregnant; and patients who take a series of other medicines which may interact with Paxlovid.

The federal government has a deal with Pfizer to secure access to an initial one million doses of the drug.

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