BRITAIN has become the first country in the world, on Thursday, to approve COVID-19 antiviral drug, jointly developed by Merk & Inc [US based drug-makers] and Ridgeback Biotherapeutic, for use in the treatment of Covid-19. The drug is seen as a “potentially game-changing COVID-19 antiviral pill”. And will be a boost to the fight against the pandemic.
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, MHRA, recommended the drug, [molnupiravir] be used, as soon as possible. This followed a positive COVID-19 test, and within five days of the onset of symptoms.
This is the first oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19, approved with green light, ahead of potential US regulatory clearance. US advisers will meet this month to vote on whether molnupiravir should be authorized.
The drug, will be branded Lagevrio in Britain. It has been closely watched, after data last month, showed the drug could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalized, for those who are most at risk of developing severe COVID-19, when given early in the illness.
British government and the country’s National Health Service will confirm how the treatment will be deployed to patients in due course. Last month, Britain agreed a deal with Merck to secure 480,000 courses of molnupiravir.
Merck & Inc, the US based drug-makers, in a separate statement, said it was expecting to produce 10 million courses of the treatment by the end of this year, with at least 20 million set to be manufactured in 2022. Merck’s shares went up [2.1%] at $90.54 before the market open.