U.S. pharmaceutical group Merck, plans to submit a new anti Covid-19 oral drug to the FDA for approval soon. According to a controlled clinical trial, the drug reduced by two the hospitalization and death risks associated with the virus.
If approved, the oral drug would be the first product of its kind to be marketed to treat Covid-19. This represents a breakthrough in the fight against the pandemic.
Developed in partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, “Molnupiravir” is the name of the product. Merck announced Friday that it would submit a dossier to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as soon as possible.
Significantly lower hospitalization rate
The group showed promising clinical trial results: The study involved 775 people with mild to moderate Covid-19 and at least one aggravating factor. Treatment began within five days of the onset of symptoms.
Hospitalization or death rates were 7.3%, compared with 14.1% in the placebo group.
“A huge step forward in the fight against Covid-19”
Experts expressed the need to see the full clinical data. In addition, they emphasized that this kind of treatment should not replace the vaccine.
“There is no doubt that a safe, affordable, and effective antiviral would be a huge step forward in the fight against Covid,” says Oxford University professor Peter Horby.
Because Covid-19 is still circulating and most available treatments require a trip to the hospital, “antiviral treatments that can be taken at home are absolutely necessary,” said Wendy Holman, an executive at Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
Merck has already begun large-scale production of molnupiravir and plans to manufacture enough for 10 million treatments by the end of the year.
Pfizer also announced on Monday that it has begun a large-scale clinical trial of its own anti-Covid pill. The company will be testing its ability to preventively reduce the risk of infection in those around someone who has contracted the disease.