What we know so far about the oral drug against Covid-19 that Merck is experimenting with

What we know so far about the oral drug against Covid-19 that Merck is experimenting with

It's called molnupiravir and is manufactured by Merck, which has released some preliminary results. The drug is very promising, but the data are initial and not yet published. Furthermore, for now the costs are high

(photo: Getty Images) A ​​new experimental antiviral, an oral drug still under study, could also help in the future in the fight against the coronavirus. The drug in question, called molnupiravir, was developed by Emory University and then developed by the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. (together with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics), which disclosed the first results of the clinical trial on volunteers. From the analysis, still not peer reviewed and not published, it emerged that the antiviral, used at the beginning of the infection, could significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19 in patients with mild or moderate symptoms and at risk of develop more severe forms. Merck & Co. (known as MSD in Europe) has announced that it intends to seek emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US authority responsible for the approval of new medicines, soon.

The antiviral molnupiravir

Today's survey reports the data of 775 patients who are not hospitalized but positive for Sars-Cov-2, with mild to moderate symptoms, which appeared for a maximum of 5 days. All participants had a risk factor that made them more vulnerable to severe forms of Covid-19, such as old age or obesity. Molnupiravir treatment is oral (these are tablets) and lasts for 5 days. Merck reports that from an interim analysis (ie the evaluation of data from the study still in progress) it emerged that the therapy causes hospitalizations and deaths to drop by 50%. Furthermore, the antiviral has proved effective against the delta variant, the gamma and the mu.

From potential to some doubts

The first data released by Merck are favorable and some scientists speak of a possible "turning point" thanks to the new antiviral. In the face of a good initial enthusiasm, there is also some perplexity. A previous analysis (reported here by the company) reported a reduced effect of the drug in hospitalized patients with advanced Covid-19. side effects to be investigated and the fact that the results are not yet peer reviewed. Drugs of the same class as molnupiravir have been associated with congenital malformations at birth in animal studies, but the Merck company, which developed the drug, states that in this case, in similar animal research, longer duration and higher dosage, the problem does not exist and the drug does not damage the mammalian DNA.

The expenditure is also high for now, according to Science: the United States government has anticipated an order of 1.7 million doses, as reported by the New York Times, where a treatment (in tablets) lasting 5 days has a cost of 700 dollars (about 600 euros), approximately one third less than that of monoclonal antibodies.

Then, if the process goes ahead and the drug is authorized, with a very strong positive impact, the antiviral would be an additional tool, as the US authorities underline, and we should not sit back, feel less threatened by the coronavirus or consider minus u tile vaccination, which remains an essential tool against Covid-19.

For now there are no early treatments

Even now that we have vaccines, the search for treatments against the virus must not stop . We recall that there are currently no early treatments approved for Covid-19 and that among the antivirals remdesivir and monoclonal antibodies, both administered intravenously, are approved and in use. Remdesivir, the efficacy of which has been questioned, can only be prescribed in patients with moderate to severe disease and in selected cases, while monoclonal antibodies (even on these there has been debate), for mild and moderate cases and also these administered in specific situations.

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Coronavirus treatments Covid-19 Variants Sars-Cov-2 globalData.fldTopic = "Coronavirus , Covid-19 therapies, Sars-Cov-2 variants "

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