American antiviral drugs for COVID-19 have been put on virtual sale as China scrambles to co-exist with the virus.

China’s pharmacy platform 111.inc began offering Pfizer’s Paxlovid on December 13. A 150 microgram box is priced at 2,980 yuan, slightly more than $425. 

According to The Paper, people can only buy the medicine if they prove that they have contracted the novel virus. they have to message a positive COVID-testing result. Talking with the publication, a doctor also warned residents against using Paxlovid as an immunity booster.

As Reuters reported, the oral medication sold out swiftly half an hour after the media began to report it. There isn’t information on how many boxes were sold, when sales would pick back up, or whether other merchants had begun offering the two-drug therapy.

Pfizer also issued a statement on December 13, saying, “Pfizer is actively collaborating with all stakeholders to secure an adequate supply of Paxlovid in China and remains committed to fulfilling the COVID-19 treatment needs of patients in China.”

China approved Paxlovid in February. Two months later, Pfizer and Zhejiang Huahai agreed to let the latter manufacture the drugs for the mainland market. 

Pfizer’s debut in the Chinese market promises substantial earnings for the U.S. drugmaker. Reuters noted that the company was expected to report a revenue cut from fallen demand for its vaccines against coronavirus.

China is in shortage of COVID-related medicines as citizens move to live with the virus.

Wang, a Beijing resident, told The New York Times the shortage had been the most urgent issue.

The 25-year-old said, “Many medicines in great demand are not available now, and I don’t know if other medicines prescribed can have the same effect.”

According to the Times, shares of Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical, the company that makes herbal remedy Lianhua Qingwen, have increased by more than 20% on the Shenzhen stock market since the easing of restrictions.

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