“Paxlovid mouth” has become a new topic of discussion on social media in recent days, as many people have complained about an unpleasant taste in their mouths after they’ve taken Pfizer’s Paxlovid to treat COVID-19.
Twitter users have compared the taste left behind by the antiviral drug to that earwax“dirty pennies” and “horrible rotten placenta” and “satan’s ashtray.” The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has acknowledged that an “altered or impaired sense to taste” known as dysgeusia is a possible side effect of Paxlovid, while Pfizer’s clinical trial of the drug conducted before it was granted emergency use authorization from the FDA said dysgeusia only showed up as a symptom in 5.6 percent of the people in a study.
The side effect may be worth it for many people given that Pfizer’s clinical trial also found that 89 percent of unvaccinated people who received Paxlovid were less likely to develop severe illness and death compared with trial participants who took a placebo. Paxlovid has also been widely prescribed by doctors to both unvaccinated and vaccinated patients, including to President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden when they recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Some people who experienced “Paxlovid mouth” have helpfully included their remedies for getting rid of the sensation.
One person said he “developed a wicked addiction to cinnamon Altoids,” while another recommended cherry-flavored cough drops.
“The only thing I found to help was chewing cinnamon gum,” another Twitter user offered. “My normal peppermint or ginger chews did NOTHING! I mean, I’ll take Paxlovid mouth over the hospital any day, but [sick face emoji].”
“Since Paxlovid mouth is trending I thought I’d share the only thing that actually helped me with it. I tried tons of gums, mints, lozenges, but the only savior I had? These kiddy mouthwash flavors. Completely lifesaving. I kept one by me the whole time I was on Paxlovid,” read a tweet that included a photo of ACT Kids Anticavity Mouthwash (bubblegum and pineapple flavors).
“Paxlovid tip: Hot Tamales (the cinnamon candy) get rid of that awful never ending terrible taste in your mouth the medicine gives you,” said one person.
Flavored, sweet candies were widely recommended by Twitter users, but the bitterness of dark chocolate also apparently provided relief for many.
“In the greatest news ever department, I have discovered that “Paxlovid metal mouth ruins everything” is no match for dark chocolate. So that is all I will be eating for the next five days…” read one tweet.
A lot of messages indicated that while “Paxlovid mouth” was disagreeable, the effectiveness of the drug itself merited its use.
“I feel so vindicated!! I had no idea others had that terrible taste like I did. It kept me awake the first night and all I tasted was bitterness and ash for 4 days straight,” wrote one person about his experience. “Still worth it 100% though.”
Newsweek reached out to Pfizer for comment.