China's first 3CL protease inhibitor oral anti-COVID-19 drug goes on sale
Published: Feb 28, 2023 01:07 AM
Xiannuoxin Photo: VCG

Xiannuoxin Photo: VCG

China's first oral anti-COVID-19 pill with the SARS-CoV-2 3CL protease as the drug target hit the market on Sunday at a price of 750 yuan ($107.84) per packet, much cheaper than Pfizer's Paxlovid, which is also a designated 3CL protease inhibitor.

The drug is used for treating adult patients with mild to moderate infections and is co-packaged with the names Simnotrelvir/Ritonavir. It is also known as Xiannuoxin. The drug obtained special approval for conditional sales in China from the National Medical Products Administration on January 28 and was put into production on February 11.

As the first China-developed oral COVID-19 pill that targets 3CL protease, the pricing of Xiannuoxin is much lower than that of Paxlovid, which costs 1,890 yuan for one course of treatment.

According to the National Healthcare Security Administration, the drug will also be covered by medical insurance until March 31, 2023, the same as Paxlovid. In some areas, patients pay less than 100 yuan out of their own pocket.

According to the producer of the drug, Nanjing-based Simcere Pharmaceutical Group, production of Xiannuoxin is increasing. In order to ensure that confirmed patients can use the drug in a timely manner, the company has invested special resources to speed up access to the drug at hospitals.

According to the phase III clinical trial data disclosed by Simcere, the oral small-molecule innovative drug can effectively shorten the course of the disease and reduce viral load rapidly and substantially among adult patients with mild to moderate infections.

Compared with the placebo group, the time from first medication to complete resolution of 11 related symptoms by the group using Xiannuoxin was significantly shortened by 1.5 days. In the high-risk subgroup with severe disease, there was a significant reduction in time of about 2.4 days. Meanwhile, the data also suggested that it is more effective when it is used earlier.

Besides, after the full five-day course of treatment, the Xiannuoxin group had a significant drop in viral load, down by about 96 percent. The time taken for nucleic acid testing results to turn negative was also significantly shortened by 2.2 days.

Moreover, the drug proved to be safe and well-tolerated among mild to moderate COVID-19 patients in China. The patients at high risk with severe illness benefited significantly with the recovery time significantly shortened.

Global Times