Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced on Friday that they’ve developed a drug that reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by around 50% for patients with mild or moderate cases of Covid.
The companies plan to seek emergency authorization for the antiviral Covid treatment after the medicine showed “compelling results” in clinical trials. The drug, molnupiravir, is administered orally and works by inhibiting the replication of the coronavirus inside the body.
An interim analysis of a phase 3 study found that 7.3% of patients treated with molnupiravir were hospitalized within 29 days. Of the patients who received a placebo, 14.1% were hospitalized or died by day 29. No deaths were reported in patients who were given molnupiravir within the 29-day period, while eight deaths were reported in placebo-treated patients.
“The news of the efficacy of this particular antiviral is obviously very good news,” White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a Covid briefing Friday. “The company, when they briefed us last night, had mentioned that they will be submitting their data to the FDA imminently.”
“The FDA will look at the data and in their usual, very efficient and effective way, will examine the data as quickly as they possibly can, and then it will be taken from there,” Fauci said. All 775 trial participants had laboratory-confirmed symptomatic Covid-19 and were randomly given molnupiravir or a placebo within five days of symptoms.
Every participant was unvaccinated and had at least one underlying factor that put them at greater risk of developing a more severe case of the virus. The most common risk factors included obesity, being over age 60 and having diabetes or heart disease.
Robert M. Davis, CEO and president of Merck, said in a press release Friday that the company would do everything it can to bring molnupiravir to patients as quickly as possible. “With these compelling results, we are optimistic that molnupiravir can become an important medicine as part of the global efforts to fight the pandemic,” he said.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: ABC NEWS
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