Therapy will be available on the NHS as a clinical treatment option for adults with COVID-19

Pfizer has announced today that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued an appraisal consultation document which recommends Paxlovid.

Also known as nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, the treatment is a clinical and cost-effective community therapy for eligible adults who have COVID-19 but do not require supplemental oxygen.

The drug also impacts individuals who are at risk of severe disease progression, as described by the independent advisory group report commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition, this guidance supports making the antiviral treatment – which has been supplied to the UK Government since early 2022 – available throughout the NHS.

Dr Berkeley Phillips, medical director at Pfizer, commented: “While vaccination and preventative measures such as good basic hygiene remain the first line of defence against COVID-19, treatments for COVID-19 are an important therapeutic option for patients at high risk of progression to severe disease and hospitalisation.

“Given the ongoing impact of COVID-19, as well as the unpredictable nature of SARS-CoV-2, it is important that patients at high risk of severe disease have access to therapeutic options, as well as vaccines. Antiviral treatments have the potential to reduce progression to severe COVID-19 illness, reduce the burden on the hospital system and reduce disease mortality.”

Susan Rienow, country president at Pfizer, concluded: “Today’s draft guidance is encouraging as it suggests that patients at highest risk of serious illness will continue to be eligible to receive nirmatrelvir as a treatment option in the community, beyond the pandemic-specific access arrangements.

She added: “We now look forward to working with NICE as it considers additional evidence to determine the cost-effectiveness of nirmatrelvir in other at-risk groups.”

NICE is expected to issue its final decision on the product in March 2023.