Health Canada approves Pfizer’s antiviral treatment for COVID-19

Thus, people with kidney disease should consult their doctor before taking Paxlovid. A lower dose may be indicated. It is contraindicated for patients with liver disease, including hepatitis, and those with HIV. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

A new tool has been added to the arsenal to fight COVID-19. Health Canada on Monday approved Pfizer’s Paxlovid antiviral treatment to treat COVID-19.

The authorization posted on Health Canada’s website Monday morning says the treatment is authorized for adult patients with mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19 who are also at high risk of becoming more seriously ill or dying.

It is not, however, approved for use with patients who are already hospitalized and have severe or critical COVID-19.

In addition, Health Canada has not authorized its use in children and adolescents under the age of 18.

It also cannot be used for more than five consecutive days.

Paxlovid is a treatment that uses a combination of drugs, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, to prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from replicating once it has infected a patient.

Clinical trials show it to be nearly 90% effective in preventing serious illness in high-risk patients who received it within the first five days of infection.

Health Canada also issues several warnings on the use of this drug.

Thus, people with kidney disease should consult their doctor before taking Paxlovid. A lower dose may be indicated. It is contraindicated for patients with liver disease, including hepatitis, and those with HIV.

The drug also poses risks of “serious interactions” with a long list of other drugs.

Some side effects were noted during clinical trials, including diarrhea, muscle aches, nausea, high blood pressure and headaches, but Health Canada warns that other side effects may be noted as its use is expanding.

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