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World’s First Authorized COVID-19 Treatment Pill To Begin Trials In Britain
By Ell Ko, 08 Nov 2021
Image via Merck
In October, it was reported that a new antiviral pill developed by Emory University, Merck, and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics was a potential breakthrough in COVID-19 treatment. Last Thursday, around a month after the first announcement, the molnupravir pill was granted approval by United Kingdom Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), making Britain the first country in the world to do so.
This pill is the first oral antiviral medicine focused on treating “mild-to-moderate COVID-19” in adults who have at least one risk factor for developing severe illness, according to the team at Merck.
In an interview with the BBC cited by Reuters, Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser at the UK Health Security Agency, announced that the drug will “start to be rolled out through a drug trial in the end of this month/the beginning of December.”
She also explained that the drug had previously only been tested on the unvaccinated, so a wider rollout would help to show its effects on the vaccinated, which makes up a majority of the population.
The authorization was based on positive results from a clinical trial, which saw 800mg of molnupiravir administered twice a day to non-hospitalized, unvaccinated adult patients mild-to-moderate COVID-19 and at least one risk factor associated with poor disease outcomes such as heart disease and diabetes.
The British government previously stated that it had secured around 480,000 courses of the molnupiravir pill alongside 250,000 courses of a similar pill developed by Pfizer. However, Hopkins points out that the Pfizer alternative is “probably not going to be licensed until the new year some time.”
In the UK, LAGEVRIO (pronounced “lah-GEV-ree-oh”) is the planned trademark for molnupiravir.
Merck has also stated that its application to the US Food and Drug Administration is currently under review, and the company will be working to submit applications to various other countries as well.
[via Reuters, cover image via Merck]
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