Covid Pill Will Be Scarce as States Divvy Up the First Batch
(Bloomberg) -- Just like Covid-19 testing sites and vaccines, Covid-19 treatment pills will be in short supply for months until production can increase.
The federal distribution to states will be based on population, and it will likely be up to doctors to prescribe Pfizer Inc.’s Paxlovid. The National Institutes of Health said it will release recommendations on how to allocate treatments.
New York will get only 3,180 courses of the newly cleared Covid-19 treatment pill for the state’s roughly 20 million residents when the U.S. government starts parceling them out on a per-capita basis in the coming week, according to a breakdown of the disbursements by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Wyoming -- which has about half a million residents -- will get just 100 courses, similar to smaller states like Vermont and Delaware. California, the most-populous state in the U.S. will get 6,180.
“Product will be limited at first and ramp up significantly in the coming months,” the department said. “An initial 65,000 courses of Paxlovid will be made available for shipment to states and territories and will begin arriving at dispensing sites by the end of December.”
The U.S. will have 265,000 Pfizer courses by the end of January and 10 million courses by July. It will also have 3 million of Merck & Co.’s Covid pill, developed with partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, by the end of January.
Jeff Zients, President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator, said the Pfizer pill takes about six to eight months to make.
“Now that the pill is authorized, we will have discussions to explore how we can help them improve their manufacturing capacity even further by providing any resources needed,” Zients said at a press briefing Wednesday.
Doctors will be looking for the Merck and Pfizer pills to fill a gap for high-risk patients, who until now have been treated with monoclonal antibody therapies to keep them from needing hospital care.
Some of the most widely used antibody treatments from Eli Lilly & Co. and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. appear far less effective against omicron than earlier variants because they target regions on the virus’s spike protein that have changed during its evolution.
Biden, speaking in an ABC News interview on Wednesday, said it “will be a matter of weeks to a month to get the pills, but it won’t be enough to get to all the hospitals.” He said the government ordered “a lot of pills, all they can make so far.”
Here’s a breakdown of initial deliveries by state:
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