Sunday, October 17, 2021

WHO says it awaits full data from Merck on COVID-19 pill molnupiravir

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The World Health Organization is awaiting full clinical data on the antiviral pill made by Merck & Co to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients, a WHO spokesperson said on Tuesday, a day after the company said it had applied for U.S. emergency use authorisation.

WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier, asked at a U.N. briefing in Geneva about the drug, said: “Indeed, this is an interesting development. We would have to see the full data about it. If it holds true, then it is another weapon in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The treatment, molnupiravir, cut the rate of hospitalisation and death by 50% in a trial of mild-to-moderately ill patients who had at least one risk factor for the disease, according to data released this month.

About Molnupiravir

Molnupiravir (MK-4482/EIDD-2801) is an investigational, orally administered form of a potent ribonucleoside analog that inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. Molnupiravir has been shown to be active in several preclinical models of SARS-CoV-2, including for prophylaxis, treatment, and prevention of transmission. Additionally, pre-clinical and clinical data have shown molnupiravir to be active against the most common SARS-CoV-2 variants. Molnupiravir was invented at Drug Innovations at Emory (DRIVE), LLC, a not-for-profit biotechnology company wholly owned by Emory University, and is being developed by Merck & Co., Inc. in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Ridgeback received an upfront payment from Merck and also is eligible to receive contingent payments dependent upon the achievement of certain developmental and regulatory approval milestones. Any profits from the collaboration will be split between the partners equally. Since licensed by Ridgeback, all funds used for the development of molnupiravir have been provided by Merck and by Wayne and Wendy Holman of Ridgeback.

Molnupiravir is also being evaluated for post-exposure prophylaxis in MOVe-AHEAD, a global, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 3 study, which is evaluating the efficacy and safety of molnupiravir in preventing the spread of COVID-19 within households.

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