Merck Says It Has First Effective Antiviral Pill To Treat COVID-19

Headline Roundup October 1st, 2021

American drugmaker Merck announced Friday that it will seek emergency authorization of an experimental antiviral pill known as molnupiravir after it significantly reduced the worst effects of COVID-19 in clinical trials. The company said that in the trials, the treatment cut the risk of hospitalization or death in half when given to high-risk patients within the first five days of COVID-19 symptoms. By inserting errors into the virus' genetic code, the drug can reportedly minimize the duration of illness, mitigate serious symptoms and "limit transmission to people in your household if you are sick." Some experts are "optimistic that molnupiravir can become an important medicine as part of the global effort to fight the pandemic" if authorized, alleviating pressure on hospitals and curbing infections in poorer areas across the globe. Merck said it expects to complete the third phase of trials by early November. Two other antiviral pills are being developed: one by Pfizer, and the other by Atea Pharmaceuticals and Roche. Both are expected to release their trial results in the coming months.

Coverage was prominent across the spectrum, with most outlets highlighting hopeful barometers that molnupiravir could play a key role in ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Some outlets also emphasized how White House COVID-19 Coordinator Jeff Zients said the antiviral pill could be an “additional tool in our toolbox” but that vaccinations remain the strongest tool. 

From the Left

News that an experimental antiviral drug from Merck appears to halve the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19 has bolstered hopes of finding a simple at-home treatment for the virus.

The drug, molnupiravir, is given as a pill. It performed well enough in a late-stage clinical trial of adults at high risk of severe Covid-19 that the independent review board overseeing the study recommended that it be ended early. Now Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics will seek FDA authorization for the drug “as soon as possible,” they said...

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From the Right

Merck on Friday said it will seek emergency approval of an antiviral pill to treat COVID-19 after it significantly cut the risk of bad outcomes in clinical trials.

The New Jersey-based drugmaker said the drug, molnupiravir, cut the risk of hospitalization or death in half in high-risk patients with mild to moderate illness.

If authorized for use, it would be a groundbreaking treatment. Pills are easy to take and can reach a wider audience than monoclonal antibodies, an effective treatment in high demand.

Merck said it stopped the trial early in consultation...

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From the Center

Drugmaker Merck said Friday that its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus, potentially a leap forward in the global fight against the pandemic.

The company said it will soon ask health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize the pill’s use. A decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could come within weeks after that, and the drug, if OK’d, could be distributed quickly soon afterward.

If cleared, it would be the first pill shown to treat...

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