Molnupiravir: Merck’s experimental Covid-19 drug cuts risk of hospitalization, death by half

Merck announced that in an international clinical trial, its experimental drug to treat Covid-19 — molnupiravir — reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by nearly half among higher-risk people diagnosed with mild or moderate illness.

The clinical trial is being stopped early, and the drugmaker plans to apply for emergency authorization as soon as possible. If authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration, the pill developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics would be the first oral medication to treat the coronavirus.

Analysts from ODDO BHF financial services group say the antiviral will have little impact on Covid vaccines in the short and intermediate term. Even though inoculation rates are low in most lesser developed countries, ODDO says it’s unlikely that countries will shift away from vaccination campaigns to focus primarily on treating high-risk patients with Covid-19.

Australia to buy 300K doses: Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the country will buy 300,000 doses of Merck’s experimental antiviral pill.

“These treatments mean that we are going to be able to live with the virus,” Morrison said. Australia plans to reopen its borders next month for fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents. The drug is expected to be available in Australia by early next year.

Meanwhile, in India, share of Divi’s Laboratories, which makes the main ingredient of Merck’s experimental antiviral pill, soared 10 per cent on Monday, on reports of positive clinical trial results for molnupiravir. Shares of generic drugmakers CiplaSun PharmaDr Reddy’s Laboratories and Torrent Pharmaceuticals, which are jointly conducting a clinical trial in India with molnupiravir, also gained between 1.1 per cent and 2.3 per cent.


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