Merck to seek authorization for oral Covid drug

FILE PHOTO: The Merck logo is seen at a gate to the Merck & Co campus in Rahway, New Jersey, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

WASHINGTON: Pharmaceutical company Merck said Friday it will seek authorization in the US for an oral drug for Covid-19, after the pill showed "compelling results" in a clinical trial.

The experimental drug, molnupiravir, significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death when administered to high-risk patients early in the disease, Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said in a statement.

"At the interim analysis, 7.3 percent of patients who received molnupiravir were hospitalized through Day 29, compared with 14.1 percent of placebo-treated patients who were hospitalized or died."

The phase three clinical trial evaluated data from 775 patients with laboratory-confirmed mild to moderate Covid.

"Merck plans to seek emergency use authorization in the US as soon as possible and to submit applications to regulatory agencies worldwide," the companies said.

Molnupiravir, one of several oral pills for Covid being developed, is meant to stop the virus from replicating.





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