Pfizer's Paxlovid still free, for now, after FDA grants full approval to COVID drug [View all]
Source: CBS News
The Biden administration will continue to manage the distribution of free courses of Pfizer's Paxlovid treatment for COVID-19 for at least another few months, the drugmaker said, even after the Food and Drug Administration granted Pfizer full approval Thursday to market the pills. "At this time, the U.S. government will continue to oversee the distribution of PAXLOVID, and U.S. residents eligible for PAXLOVID will continue to receive the medicine at no charge," Pfizer said in a release.
Federal officials have previously said that the widely-expected approval of the drug, as well as the unwinding of the public health emergency earlier this month, would have no immediate impact on distribution of government-bought supplies of the pills. "We bought a little bit more anticipating a winter surge that never really materialized. And we don't want the American people to pay twice," Dawn O'Connell, head of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, said at an event hosted by the Health Affairs journal last week.
O'Connell's agency, ASPR, has distributed nearly 14 million courses of Pfizer's pills to date. Around 9.3 million of those have been reported administered to patients across the country. The Biden administration still has around 9.6 million courses of the pills in its stockpile that have yet to be distributed. "If we've purchased it for them with their taxpayer dollars, we want to make what we've purchased available to them for free, as we've been promising," said O'Connell.
O'Connell said officials have been actively planning for the end of their supply of free Paxlovid, which would mean Pfizer's drug would switch to the commercial market. That means Americans' access to the drug would now become the same as other medications that require navigating insurance and pharmacies to fill their prescriptions.
Read more: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pfizers-paxlovid-fda-approval-cost/