Pfizer CEO: Oral drug to stop coronavirus could be ready next year

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says that an oral drug for COVID-19 could be ready next year.

“If all goes well, and we implement the same speed that we are, and if regulators do the same, and they are, I hope that by the end of the year,” Bourla said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."


The only antiviral currently approved for use against the coronavirus is remdesivir, which is manufactured by Gilead Sciences. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the drug full approval in October, after it was granted emergency use authorization in May.

Remdesivir is administered in a hospital setting through an IV.

Speaking on "Squawk Box," Bourla said Pfizer is working on two antivirals, an oral and an injectable. 

The company began an early-stage clinical trial of the oral drug late last month. The drug blocks protease, a critical enzyme that the virus needs to replicate.


“Particular attention is on the oral because it provides several advantages,” Bourla said. “One of them is that you don’t need to go to the hospital to get the treatment, which is the case with all the injectables so far. You could get it at home, and that could be a game-changer.”

He also said the medication could be “way more effective against the multiple variants” of the virus than current options.

Bourla said the company should have more news about it later this summer.

Pfizer has a COVID-19 vaccine, which it co-developed with German drug company BioNTech, that was granted emergency authorization by the FDA in December, one of three vaccines against the disease currently approved for use in the U.S.

Thus far, more than 121 million doses of the vaccine have been administered across the country.