Merck Leads The COVID-19 Antiviral Race With Molnupiravir

Combatting COVID-19 with a little brown pill As pharmaceutical companies around the world race to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with vaccines more are focusing on antiviral treatments with...


Combatting COVID-19 with a little brown pill

As pharmaceutical companies around the world race to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with vaccines more are focusing on antiviral treatments with Merck leading the race. With more than 200 antiviral pills in development, Merck is the furthest along with their antiviral drug molnupiravir currently in clinical trials.

If proven safe and approved for use, molnupiravir will be a vital tool for doctors to help combat COVID-19 that is being compared to the Tamiflu treatment for the common flu. Merck’s little brown pill is currently in mid-stage with their clinical study with plans for larger trials to determine whether it prevents severe illness and death.

Molnupiravir’s journey for approval started in January before targeting the medication to be used for COVID-19 seeking funding to progress flu studies and explore the use of treatment for Ebola. Shortly after the release of early data for molnupiravir, the world shut down with COVID-19 lockdowns beginning around the world.

After news of a worldwide lockdown, the demand for the drug was established with clinical trials for the pill starting in April. By May, Merck & Co. acquired the rights to molnupiravir from the initial developer, Ridgeback, and initiated the beginning of large-scale trials that began in the fall to be authorized by regulators.

Merck might be further in development with competition but other competitors are also gaining traction in clinical trials including Pfizer. The U.S. drugmaker has already successfully gained approval for emergency use by the FDA for the vaccine and recently announced they will be moving forward with human trials for their antiviral treatment. Pfizer’s oral antiviral drug can be used at the first sign of illness to prevent viral replication that works similar to other treatment drugs for Hepatitis C and HIV.

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