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Drug maker unveils oral treatment to lessen risk of COVID-19 hospitalisations, deaths

Photo: BoomLive.In

*Drug manufacturer Merck notes drug Molnupiravir reduces the risk of hospitalisations or deaths from the Coronavirus by approximately 50 percent, as it plans for worldwide distribution, if granted approval by the regulatory authority

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to the company’s disappointing clinical trial results with two COVID-19 Vaccines earlier this year, drug manufacturer Merck is returning to the table with an oral treatment against the damaging pandemic.

ConsumerConnect learnt the drug maker’s year-long clinical study involving the oral antiviral medicine Molnupiravir, a drug originally developed for the treatment of influenza, found that the drug reduced the risk of hospitalisation or death from the Coronavirus by approximately 50 percent.

With those results, Merck says it plans to seek Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) in the United States (US), agency report said.

Oral antiviral medicine Molnupiravir   Photo: 

Certain Merck Spokesperson was quoted to have said that Molnupiravir’s potential could be game-changing.

“Not only is it effective against COVID-19, but other coronavirus strains, as well,” they said.

Merck reported no deaths among those who received Molnupiravir in its outpatient study. That compared to 8 deaths in patients who received a placebo, report stated.

Robert M. Davis, Chief Executive Officer and President of Merck, also said: “More tools and treatments are urgently needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which has become a leading cause of death and continues to profoundly affect patients, families, and societies and strain health care systems all around the world.

“With these compelling results, we are optimistic that molnupiravir can become an important medicine as part of the global effort to fight the pandemic.”

A plan for global distribution

It was learnt if granted approval, Merck says it is prepared to produce 10million courses of treatment by the end of 2021, with more doses expected to be produced in 2022.

Merck’s plans for Molnupiravir are global. In fact, the Phase 3 portion of the trial was conducted in more than 170 planned sites in countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Guatemala, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Report also indicates the drug company has already submitted marketing applications to other global drug regulators and stated that it plans to implement a tiered pricing approach if it is authorised or approved.

The pricing system will reflect countries’ relative ability to finance their health response to the pandemic, Merck said.

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