The United Kingdom becomes the first country in the world to give approval to an anti Covid pill, known as molnupiravir

Merck's Covid-19 Pill Molnupiravir Gets Approval In The UK Amid Increasing Infections

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Nov 5, 2021 03:12 PM +05:30 IST
Merck's Covid-19 Pill Molnupiravir Gets Approval In The UK Amid Increasing Infections Merck’s Covid anti-viral pill (Representative Image)
  • The UK becomes the first country to give its approval to the first oral drug designed to treat symptomatic Covid-19, Merck's Molnupiravir.

    The approval for Molnupiravir also known as Lagevrio comes at a time when UK is experiencing an increase in Covid-19 infections.

    According to the most recent seven-day average, the UK has roughly 40,000 daily cases of Covid-19.

The drug regulator in the United Kingdom, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has given its approval to the first tablet designed to treat symptomatic Covid-19.

The anti-covid pill, which is also considered as a potentially game-changing tablet, is called ‘Molnupiravir’. Britain’s MHRA recommended its use in people with mild to moderate disease and at least one risk factor for developing severe Covid-19, such as obesity, heart disease and older age diabetes.

This pill was jointly developed by two American companies Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

The medication, which was originally created to treat flu, was found to reduce the risk of hospitalisation or death by roughly half in clinical trials. However, it is the first antiviral drug for the coronavirus caused disease that can be taken orally rather than being injected or administered intravenously.

The UK has committed to buy 480,000 courses, with the first deliveries scheduled for November. The pill will be administered to both vaccinated and unvaccinated patients at first as part of national research, with additional data on its usefulness gathered before any decision to purchase more is made.

According to the British drug regulator, to be most effective, the medicine must be taken twice a day within 5 days of the onset of symptoms. The medication, known in the UK as Lagevrio, is designed to produce faults in the genetic code of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

In animal research, drugs in the same class as Molnupiravir have been related to birth abnormalities. Animal testing—outside of the United States and Canada—has shown that Molnupiravir is safe, according to Merck. However, the data has not yet been made public.

Merck's Molnupiravir has been keenly monitored since studies last month revealed that when taken early in the illness, it could half the likelihood of dying or being hospitalised for individuals most at risk of developing severe COVID-19.

Approval In The United Kingdom

The quick approval in the UK comes as the government tries to control rising infection rates. According to the most recent seven-day average, the country has roughly 40,000 daily cases of Covid-19.

According to data released on 3 November, last month, the Covid-19 frequency in England reached its highest level on record, owing to a significant number of cases among children and an increase in the southwest of the country.

The government is under increasing pressure to adopt its "Plan B," which includes mask mandates, immunisation passes and work-from-home directives, to shield the NHS from unsustainable demands.

The British government has stated that it will continue to focus on delivering booster vaccines and inoculating 12- to 15-year-olds.

MHRA chief June Raine said: "With no compromises on quality, safety and effectiveness, the public can trust that the MHRA has conducted a robust and thorough assessment of the data (on Molnupiravir)."

However, Merck said it expects to produce 10 million courses of the treatment by the end of this year, with at least 20 million expected by 2022.

Both Merck and another American drug maker Pfizer are conducting late-stage trials to see if their medications can prevent coronavirus infection.

According to Merck, viral sequencing has indicated that Molnupiravir is effective against all coronavirus variants, including the more-infectious Delta, which is responsible for the current worldwide rise in hospitalisations and deaths.

The company has stated that it is committed to giving prompt access to its drug around the world, with plans for tiered pricing based on a country's ability to pay.

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