News ID: 316812
Published: 0304 GMT October 02, 2021

Merck pill seen as 'huge advance', raises hope of preventing COVID-19 deaths

Merck pill seen as 'huge advance', raises hope of preventing COVID-19 deaths
MERCK & CO. VIA REUTERS

An experimental antiviral pill developed by Merck & Co. could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalized for those most at risk of contracting severe COVID-19, according to data that experts hailed as a potential breakthrough in how the virus is treated.

If it gets authorization, molnupiravir, which is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus, would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19, Reuters reported.

Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said they plan to seek U.S. emergency use authorization for the pill as soon as possible and to make regulatory applications worldwide.

"An oral antiviral that can impact hospitalization risk to such a degree would be game-changing," said Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Current treatment options include Gilead Sciences Inc's infused antiviral remdesivir and generic steroid dexamethasone, both of which are generally only given once a patient has already been hospitalized.

"This is going to change the dialogue around how to manage COVID-19," Merck Chief Executive Robert Davis told Reuters.

Existing treatments are "cumbersome and logistically challenging to administer. A simple oral pill would be the opposite of that," Adalja added.

 

 

   
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