UK Becomes First Country To Authorize Use Of Merck's COVID-19 Pill

Headline Roundup November 4th, 2021

Britain has become the first country in the world to authorize the use of Merck's antiviral pill to treat COVID-19. Sajid Javid, the UK's Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said the drug will be "a game-changer for the most vulnerable and the immunosuppressed." The drug, known as molnupiravir, was approved based on clinical studies that showed the pill reduced the risk of hospitalization or death for at-risk adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 cases by about 50%. Regulators recommend that the drug be used "as soon as possible" following a positive coronavirus test and within five days of symptoms. Britain has ordered enough supplies of the antiviral for 480,000 people from Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Distribution deals have already been struck with multiple wealthy countries such as the US, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Serbia and Singapore. Although Merck asked the FDA for emergency approval of its COVID-19 pill in October, the agency's advisory committee will wait until Nov. 30 to review the safety and effectiveness of the drug.

The news was similarly covered across the spectrum. Some reports noted that Britain has become "known during the pandemic for its speed in authorizing vaccines." Left-rated outlets were more likely to highlight the criticisms from advocacy organizations for "leaving out upper-middle-income countries hit hard by the pandemic." Some right-rated outlets emphasized how health officials are still unclear on how the drug will affect vaccinated people, which "could over or underestimate its true efficacy in a highly vaccinated population."

From the Center
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The first pill designed to treat symptomatic Covid has been approved by the UK medicines regulator.

The tablet - molnupiravir - will be given twice a day to vulnerable patients recently diagnosed with the disease.

In clinical trials the pill, originally developed to treat flu, cut the risk of hospitalisation or death by about half.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the treatment was a "gamechanger" for the most frail and immunosuppressed.

In a statement he said: "Today is a historic day for our country, as the UK is now the...

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From the Right
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Britain has become the first country to approve an antiviral COVID-19 treatment that can be taken as a pill at home.

The UK national medicines regulator, the MHRA, announced on Nov. 4 that the antiviral Lagevrio (molnupiravir) had been authorised to treat mild to moderate COVID-19—in those with other risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, or those over 60 years old.

“Today is a historic day for our country, as the UK is now the first country in the world to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home for COVID-19,” said UK health secretary Sajid Javid...

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From the Left
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Regulators in Britain granted approval to the experimental drug molnupiravir from U.S. pharmaceutical giant Merck on Thursday, marking the first authorization from a public health body for an oral antiviral treatment for covid-19 in adults.

Experts have said that if widely authorized, the medicine could have huge potential to help fight the coronavirus pandemic: Pills are easier to take, manufacture and store, making them particularly useful in lower- to middle-income countries with weaker infrastructure and limited vaccine supplies.

“We will continue to move with both rigor and urgency to bring...

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