The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines has announced the approval of generic Paxlovid, an anti-COVID pill.

Dr. Oscar Gutierrez Jr., Director-General of FDA Philippines, said the agency approved the special permit application for generic Paxlovid, which will be available in the nation under the brand name Bexovid.

Paxlovid, which was invented by Pfizer, is a combination of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. It is prescribed to adult patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Gutierrez Jr. added that Bexovid could reduce the risk of COVID hospitalization or death by 89% when used within three days after symptoms occur, and 88% within five days.

He said the generic version of Paxlovid would be available at government hospitals in the Philippines once the local supplier, Biocare Lifescience, starts the distribution.

Dr. Gutierrez Jr. also said that it is up to the health department to determine how to distribute the drug to patients, adding that the nation is in talks with Pfizer for the emergency use authorization for Paxlovid.

On December 22, 2021, Pfizer announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) authorized the emergency use of Paxlovid for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients (12 years and above).

The USFDA said Paxlovid is not a substitute for vaccines even if they can fight against COVID-19.

Pfizer’s website says Paxlovid could be prescribed more broadly as an at-home COVID treatment to help reduce the severity of the illness, hospitalizations, and deaths, as well as cut the probability of infection after exposure among adults.

The website says, “It [Paxlovid] has demonstrated potent antiviral in-vitro activity against circulating variants of concern, as well as other known coronaviruses, suggesting its potential as a therapeutic for multiple types of coronavirus infections.”

Pfizer said, “Given the continued global impact of COVID-19, we have remained laser-focused on the science and fulfilling our responsibility to help healthcare systems and institutions around the world while ensuring equitable and broad access to people everywhere.”

The USFDA has also authorized the emergency use of Merck’s molnupiravir, another anti-COVID pill.

Both Paxlovid and molnupiravir are advised for patients at the highest risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness.

Last week, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allocated about 65,000 treatment courses of Paxlovid and 300,000 courses of molnupiravir to states and programs across the nation, according to NPR. Meanwhile, Dr. Gutierrez Jr. said the FDA Philippines is evaluating two product applications for self-administered COVID-19 test kits.