Experts laud Merck's Covid-19 drug molnupiravir. All you need to know
Molnupiravir is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus and would be the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19
Merck & Co’s molnupiravir, the Covid-19 pill, claims to help nations which are struggling to vaccinate their citizens. According to an analysis based on a late-stage trial conducted by Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, the pill reduced the risk of hospitalisation or death by 50%, news agency Bloomberg reported.
Unitaid, the global health agency, is also hoping that an agreement could be reached so that lower and middle-income nations struggling to vaccinate their citizens can benefit from the pill.
Molnupiravir is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus and would be the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19, news agency Reuters said. Merck chief executive Robert Davis said that this aspect of the pill will ‘change’ the conversation regarding how to treat Covid-19. Another expert from the University of Liverpool who is familiar with the developments told news agency Bloomberg that the drug could be very cheap to manufacture and made available at a low price in developing countries.
The results of the Phase III trial were promising enough for the company to stop enrolling patients and start the process of getting regulatory clearance.
Molnupiravir, according to experts, is less challenging logistically compared to Gilead Sciences’ infused antiviral remdesivir and generic steroid dexamethasone. These medicines are also administered when the patient is hospitalised.
Which countries are interested
Merck and Co earlier this year announced that it signed non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements for molnupiravir with five generic manufacturers in India. It was done to make sure that the availability of the drug in more than 100 low- and middle-income countries could be accelerated following approvals from their regulatory agencies.
Malaysia health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that negotiations between Merck and the Malaysian government have begun to procure the new drugs. The US government has also contracted to buy 1.7 million doses of Merck’s medication.