As COVID-19 continues to infect thousands around the world, pharmaceutical companies continue to work on new drug developments to help treat patients infected. On Thursday, April 9th, Pfizer Inc made an announcement of the company developing a new drug candidate that may help COVID-19 patients in the future.
Already in preclinical stage, Dr. Miakel Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, says the treatment shows positive response in becoming a treatment for future use. The company’s original plan was to start clinical trials for the treatment at the end of this year, put plans have recently moved up with the company hoping to start a little earlier, by the 3rd quarter of this year.
Dolsten says if the antiviral is successful it would “be given early in the disease process, when patients are admitted to the hospital”. The purpose of the treatment would not just treat those infected with the virus but also help to stop the spread of the virus.
In March, Pfizer first announced it had plans to develop an antiviral compound for the novel virus. Later, the company announced it was working with German firm, BioNTech to develop a vaccine for the virus. The vaccine is said to enter human clinical trials at the end of April. Dolsten says, “if the vaccine is successful and regulatory approval is granted” the company hopes to be able to “supply millions of vaccine doses by the end of 2020”, which is a much quicker timeline than the original prediction of 18 months.
This is not the only thing Pfizer is working on to help combat the virus. The company is also looking at their existing medications, such as Xeljanz, a drug used to treat autoimmune disease ulcerative colitis, to see if the medication will help those struggling with respiratory illness caused by COVID-19. The pharmaceutical company plans to support a study to see just how effective this drug will be. In addition to Xeljanz, Pfizer will also be looking into other medications that are used to improve the immune system as well to see if these can be game changers in treatment for the virus as well.
“Pfizer has mobilized resources and capabilities to address every single frontier of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dolsten. Pfizer has announced a five-point plan that includes collaborating with other companies and institutions on the research, development, and manufacturing for future treatments to come.