By Paul Vieira

 

OTTAWA-Canada's Health Minister said the country was weeks away from issuing decisions regarding regulatory authorization for the use of experimental, oral Covid-19 drugs.

Jean-Yves Duclos made the remarks at a press briefing in Ottawa on Friday. Merck & Co. and Pfizer Inc. filed late last year submissions for authorization of the oral drugs. The Federal Drug Administration last month authorized the use of those companies' oral Covid-19 antivirals.

The pills are for the newly infected who are considered at high risk for severe disease, or those who have another medical condition like cancer, diabetes or a chronic lung disease. Their use could help cut down infections that require hospital care.

Mr. Duclos acknowledged at the press conference that hospital capacity in Canada is "stretched too thin," and that's been exacerbated by a sharp rise in cases due to the Covid-19 Omicron variant.

On Dec. 3, Canada said it signed deals to acquire 500,000 courses of Merck's Covid-19 oral antiviral treatment, molnupiravir, with options for an additional 500,000 courses; and an initial quantity of 1 million courses from Pfizer of its Covid-19 oral antiviral treatment, called Paxlovid.

 

Write to Paul Vieira at paul.vieira@wsj.com

 

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 07, 2022 12:24 ET (17:24 GMT)

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