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Pfizer asks US officials to OK promising COVID-19 pill
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Pfizer asks US officials to OK promising COVID-19 pill

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Pfizer COVID Pill

This image provided by Pfizer shows its COVID-19 pill. Drugmaker Pfizer said Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, it is submitting its experimental pill for U.S. authorization, setting the stage for a likely launch in coming weeks. (Pfizer via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pfizer said Tuesday it is asking U.S. regulators to authorize its experimental pill for COVID-19, setting the stage for a likely launch of the promising therapy in the coming weeks.

The company's filing comes as new infections are rising once again, driven mainly by hot spots in states where colder weather is driving more Americans indoors.

It is one of a handful of pills that have recently been shown to significantly cut hospitalizations and deaths among people infected with COVID-19. If authorized by the Food and Drug Administration it could be a major step toward managing the pandemic and returning to normal, offering an easy, effective way for patients people to treat themselves at home.

"We are moving as quickly as possible in our effort to get this potential treatment into the hands of patients, and we look forward to working with the U.S. FDA on its review of our application," said Albert Bourla, Pfizer's CEO, in a statement.

All FDA authorized treatments against COVID-19 require an IV or injection given by a health professional at a hospital or clinic.

FDA regulators will scrutinize company data on the safety and effectiveness of the drug, which will be sold as Paxlovid, before making a decision.

The FDA is holding a public meeting later this month where outside experts will scrutinize a competing drug from Merck, before voting on whether to recommend approval. The FDA isn't required to convene such meetings and it's not yet known whether Pfizer's drug will undergo a similar public review.

Some experts predict various COVID-19 therapies eventually will be prescribed in combination to better protect against the worst effects of the virus.

Several smaller drugmakers are also expected to seek authorization for their own antiviral pills in coming months.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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