Pfizer (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report stock on Monday edged up after the health-care giant said it had started a mid-to-late-stage study of an investigational oral antiviral drug designed to prevent Covid-19 infection for those who have been exposed to the virus.
Shares of the New York company were wavering; at last check they were little changed at $43.88.
Pfizer said the study would evaluate the oral antiviral candidate PF-07321332, which is co-administered with a low dose of the antiviral ritonavir, to prevent the potentially deadly disease.
The trial is part of a global clinical research program enrolling as many as 2,660 healthy adults who are at least 18 years old and live in the same households as people who have confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections.
The study will assess safety and efficacy to prevent confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and its symptoms through 14 days, Pfizer said.
The company said PF-07321332 has an encouraging preclinical profile, including potent in-vitro antiviral SARS-CoV-2 and broad coronavirus activity.
Results from the Phase 1 clinical trial demonstrated that the treatment was safe and well tolerated.
Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer's chief scientific officer, said in a statement that if the drug proves successful, "this therapy could help stop the virus early -- before it has had a chance to replicate extensively -- potentially preventing symptomatic disease in those who have been exposed and inhibiting the onset of infection in others."
The U.S. has roughly 42.9 million reported cases of Covid-19 and 688,000 people have died from the disease.
Earlier this month, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that next month Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine could be approved for children aged 5 to 11.
On Aug. 23 the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Sponsored ADR Report vaccine, which is marketed as Comirnaty, to prevent Covid-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.
That vaccine also is available under emergency-use authorization for children aged 12 through 15 and for the administration of third doses in certain immunocompromised individuals.