The COVID-19 treatment landscape in the US

A lack of federal funding to secure more COVID-19 therapeutics and bring new drugs to market is spurring concern the nation could run out of key medications ahead of a potential fall surge. 

The Biden administration is still trying to secure an additional $10 billion in emergency funding — down from $22.5 billion first requested in March — to purchase more vaccines and therapeutics. 

Meanwhile, here's a look at key COVID-19 medications in the U.S.: 

Antivirals 

Paxlovid: The U.S. expects stockpiles of Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid to last through fall, an official who asked to remain anonymous recently told Bloomberg. U.S. clinicians had written more than 412,000 prescriptions for Paxlovid through May 6, making it the most-prescribed at-home COVID-19 treatment. The treatment is intended for patients who are at high-risk of developing severe disease. In clinical trials, it was found to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent in high-risk adults. It performed better in trials than Merck's molnupiravir,  spurring the FDA to recommend it as the preferred treatment. 

Molnupiravir: Merck's Molnupiravir was only 30 percent effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization or death in clinical trials, and the FDA recommends clinicians use it only when alternative treatment options are not accessible or clinically appropriate. Clinicians had written about 110,000 prescriptions for molnupiravir through May 6. Until March, prescriptions for this treatment and Paxlovid were comparable, partly due to low Paxlovid supplies in the U.S., with the preferred treatment now more widely available at pharmacies across the country. Still, molnupiravir has a place in the current treatment landscape, as there is a list of common drugs Paxlovid cannot be taken with. 

Monoclonal antibody treatment 

Bebtelovimab: Supplies of Eli Lilly's bebtelovimab may run dry in the summer, a senior health official for the Biden administration recently told Bloomberg. It is one of one the few monoclonal antibody treatments effective against BA.2. It's authorized for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 among those 12 and older who are at high risk of developing severe illness.

 

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