What you need to know:
- The 775 study participants had laboratory-confirmed symptoms of Covid-19 and were randomly given molnupiravir or a placebo within five days of symptoms.
A new oral anti-viral drug has stirred hope that Covid-19 could be treated by a pill.
The drug known as molnupiravir was developed for the treatment of influenza and has now been found to reduce chances of hospitalistion or death by half for patients at risk of severe disease, according to interim clinical trial results announced yesterday.
If authorised, molnupiravir would be the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19. So far, only antibody cocktails, which have to be given intravenously, are approved for treating non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients. The drug, molnupiravir, is administered orally and is designed to inhibit the replication of the coronavirus inside the body by introducing errors into the genetic code of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
According to the American multinational pharmaceutical company Merck & Co Inc, which developed the drug, Phase 3 trial dubbed MOVe-OUT has been stopped early due to the positive results seen in mild or moderate Covid-19.
Merck, in partnership with another US based company, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, announced that it plans to apply for emergency use authorisation (EUA) for the pill ‘as soon as possible’, and to submit applications to regulatory agencies globally.
“With these compelling results, we are optimistic that molnupiravir can become an important medicine as part of the global effort to fight the pandemic and will add to Merck’s unique legacy of bringing forward breakthroughs in infectious diseases when they are needed most,” said Robert M. Davis, the chief executive officer, and president.
The 775 study participants had laboratory-confirmed symptoms of Covid-19 and were randomly given molnupiravir or a placebo within five days of symptoms.
“Antiviral treatments that can be taken at home to keep people with Covid-19 out of the hospital are critically needed,” Wendy Holman, Ridgeback's CEO, said in a statement.
A placebo is a substance or treatment which is designed to have no therapeutic value. It could be a pill, a shot, or some other type of "fake" treatment. What all placebos have in common is that they do not contain an active substance meant to affect health. Researchers use placebos during studies to help them understand what effect a new drug or some other treatment might have on a particular condition, according to WebMD.
*Written by Elizabeth Merab