Merck to Ask FDA for Emergency Approval of Its New Antiviral Pill for COVID

Robin Foster, HealthDay reporter

FRIDAY, Oct 1, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co said Friday it will seek federal approval for emergency use of its new antiviral pill molonopiravir, after a clinical trial showed the drug cut the risk of hospitalization in half. . Death when administered to high-risk individuals shortly after contracting COVID-19.

The new drug is just one of several antiviral pills now being tested in studies, and experts say these drugs could give doctors a powerful new weapon to fight the virus.

“More tools and treatments are urgently needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which has become a leading cause of death and continues to severely impact patients, families and communities, and strain healthcare systems around the world,” Merck CEO and President Robert Davis said in a company statement. . “With these compelling results, we are optimistic that molonoperavir could become an important drug as part of the global effort to combat the epidemic.”

“We will continue to work with regulatory agencies on our requests and do everything we can to get molnopiravir to patients as quickly as possible,” he added.

Daria Hazoda, vice president of infectious diseases and vaccine discovery at Merck, told Washington Post“We have always believed that antivirals, especially oral antivirals, would be an important contribution to the epidemic. Keeping people out of the hospital is very important, given the emergence of variables and the ongoing evolution of the virus.”

Infectious disease experts embraced the news.

Dr Robert Schaefer, an infectious disease specialist and expert in antiviral therapy at Stanford University, said: “I think that would translate to many thousands of lives saved around the world, where there is less access to monoclonal antibodies, and in this country as well. “. New York times.

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist and research scientist with the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Organization at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, agreed that antiviral pills could reach more people than cumbersome antibody treatments.

she said to times. “You might not do the same [efficacy] The numbers of monoclonal antibodies, but they will still be huge.”