Pfizer Inc. plans to stop enrollment in a study of its Covid-19 drug in patients who aren’t at high risk of severe disease after the pill didn’t help alleviate their symptoms, a major setback for broader use of the treatment.
The New York-based drugmaker said Tuesday that it would stop adding new participants to a highly anticipated study testing Paxlovid in a broader population of Covid patients who are at low risk of hospitalization and death.
The decision comes after the study failed to demonstrate that the drug reduced Covid symptoms among relatively healthy patients and wasn’t able to show a statistically significant reduction in hospitalization and death.
Pfizer’s shares fell 0.1% in postmarket trading in New York. The results mark the latest blow to the company’s ambitions to expand the market for its blockbuster Covid pill.
In late April, a study found that Paxlovid wasn’t successful as a preventive measure for people who had been exposed to the virus.
“The study shows the challenge of demonstrating a benefit of antiviral therapy in previously vaccinated or otherwise low risk individuals,” said Paul Sax, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The trial evaluated Covid-positive patients who were either unvaccinated or were fully vaccinated with at least one medical condition that increased their risk of severe illness.
Pfizer said in a statement that the study results aren’t expected to impact its full-year revenue forecast.
The drugmaker has already clinched $22 billion in contracts for the Covid pill for 2022.
The drugmaker said it will focus its efforts on studying the drug in vulnerable populations, including people who are immunocompromised or already in the hospital.
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