Covid 19: The efficacy of the pandemic drug against Omicron to be reviewed

Trials have been very promising for the Pfizer pill, with the risk of hospitalization decreasing by 89% for adults with mild to moderate Covid-19 at high risk of progression to serious illness. Video / ABC Australia

Pharmac says he will seek advice from experts regarding the effectiveness of a drug used to treat Covid-19 as the new variant of Covid-19 sweeps the world.

On Tuesday, however, Medsafe approved a new drug, Ronapreve, to treat Covid-19.

But research is now focused on its effectiveness against the Omicron variant.

Pharmac chief executive Sarah Fitt said tocilizumab and remdesivir are currently in use in New Zealand hospitals and a stock of baricitinib has been secured.

Advance purchase agreements have also been negotiated for Ronapreve, molnupiravir and Pfizer’s antiviral therapy.

Pharmac CEO Sarah Fitt said Ronapreve is "successfully treated people with the Delta strain of Covid-19".  Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Pharmac chief executive Sarah Fitt said Ronapreve “is successful in treating people with the Delta strain of Covid-19”. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

Fitt said Ronapreve, known as Regeneron in the United States, “is successful in treating people with the Delta strain of Covid-19.” But this evidence for Omicron is less clear.

“The evidence is less clear for Omicron, and we plan to seek advice from our Covid-19 clinical expert advisory group on this matter in the new year.”

Ronapreve, produced by Roche, belongs to a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies or mAbs.

They mimic the natural antibodies that the immune system makes to fight disease. Pharmac has obtained enough Ronapreve to treat 5,300 people with “moderate to severe” symptoms. MedSafe is still evaluating the demand.

For over a year, Renapreve has been used as the gold standard treatment for the onset of Covid-19 in the United States.

However, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. recently warned that lab tests suggest their therapies will be much less potent against Omicron.

While the companies say they can quickly develop new antibodies targeting omicron, these shouldn’t be launched for at least several months.

At the end of October, the government announced that Pharmac had already obtained access to enough doses of Ronapreve to be able to treat 5,300 people and expects to be able to purchase more next year.

Pharmac is working to ensure access to further treatment, Fitt said.

However, she was unable to comment on any other information about the additional treatments for Covid-19 and said the information would be released once the deals are made.

Medsafe Group Director Chris James said Ronapreve was approved for the treatment of patients severely affected by Covid-19 who were at greater risk of their disease getting worse.

It is also approved for the prevention of Covid-19 in people who have been exposed to the virus and who have a health problem that makes them unlikely to be protected by vaccination.

However, the drug is not approved for use in children.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said he was closely monitoring the new strain.

Omicron is a new strain and as with any emerging development related to Covid-19, we are closely monitoring and monitoring evidence and country responses. “

“As new evidence emerges, we will continue to assess the risk posed to New Zealand and make changes to our response as necessary.”

– Additional reports by RNZ and AP


Sara H. Byrd