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Merck’s antiviral COVID-19 pill can reduce risk of death from the virus by 30%, study finds 

Merck’s antiviral COVID-19 pill can reduce risk of death from the virus by 30%, study finds

  • A new antiviral COVID-19 pill can cut risk of hospitalization and death from Covid by 30%, a new study finds
  • The data was published Friday, ahead of an FDA advisory meeting next week that will discuss its authorization
  • A previous study also found that the drug could reduce hospitalization and death from COVID-19 50%
  • The company is working with generic drug manufacturers to make the pills widely available across the world, once approved

A new antiviral COVID-19 pill developed by Merck & Co can reduce the risk of death from the virus a new study finds.

Molnupiravir was developed by the Kenilworth, New Jersey, based pharmaceutical company, can reduce risk of hospitalization or death by 30 percent. 

The company is currently seeking emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which will be discussed by agency advisors next week.

If the drug, which was developed in partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, receives approval in the U.S. – which it already has done in the UK – it will be the first oral medication approved to treat the virus.

A new study finds that molnupiravir (pictured), an antiviral pill developed by Merck, cut cut the risk of hospitalization or death from the virus by 30%

The study, published Friday by the FDA, included over 1,400 participants.

About 700 participants who had recently began to feel symptoms of Covid were placed in one of two groups.

One group received the drug, the other was given a placebo and operated as a control group.

Researchers found that 9.7 percent of the control group suffered a severe enough case to require hospitalization or cause death – compared to only 6.8 percent of the control group, for a reduction of 30 percent.

‘Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics have conducted a rigorous development program for molnupiravir, and believe that molnupiravir has the potential to address a significant unmet medical need for an oral medicine for adults with COVID-19 who are at risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization,’ Merck representatives wrote in a statement. 

‘We look forward to working with the FDA and other agencies as they review our applications.’ 

Previous studies have found even more promising results for molnupiravir, with the drug being able to cut hospitalization risk in half, from 14 percent to seven percent.  

A previous study found that the drug could cut hospitalizations and deaths from Covid in half, from a 14.1% risk (right) to a 7.3% risk (left)

A previous study found that the drug could cut hospitalizations and deaths from Covid in half, from a 14.1% risk (right) to a 7.3% risk (left)

The drug works by blocking the virus from replicating in the body.

It does so by introducing errors into Covid’s genetic code, hampering its ability to multiply in human cells.

The medicine targets an enzyme that the virus relies on to generate copies of itself. Merck said this process should make the tablet equally effective at tackling new variants.

If it gains regulatory approval around the world the company plans to partner with generic manufacturers to distribute the drug in developing nations.

In July, the company announced it would partner with generic manufacturers based in India to help make the drug widely available in the Covid struck nation.

The company also announced a partnership with the Medicines Patent Pool, a United Nations-backed public health organization, this week to help distribute the drug across over 100 other nations.

If the drug does get approval from regulators, then the U.S. has a deal in place to order 1.7 million doses.

The approval could come as early as November 30. 

France has also ordered 50,000 doses of the drug in advance of approval from regulators.

While the drug has not received full approval from EU regulators, it has been green lighted for use in some Covid patients who are deemed as especially high risk of severe complications from the virus. 

New York based pharmaceutical company Pfizer also is developing an oral antiviral Covid medication that it also hopes to gain authorization for in the U.S.