WASHINGTON — The U.S. has authorized the first pill against COVID-19, a Pfizer drug that Americans can take at home to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.
The Food and Drug Administration announcement comes as the U.S. braces for a wave of new infections from the omicron variant that is threatening already-strained hospitals.
Pfizer's prescription pill, which it calls Paxlovid, is the first U.S. medication that doesn't require an injection or an IV, a long-awaited milestone in the battle against the virus. But initial supplies will be extremely limited, with just enough to treat tens of thousands of people.
The drug was authorized for high-risk patients who are most likely to get severe illness.
Pfizer said earlier this month that trial results show the pill cut rates of hospitalization by nearly 90% among patients with mild-to-moderate infections.
A similar pill from competitor Merck is currently under FDA review and has been cleared by regulators for use in the U.K.