Regulators in the UK are the first to approve Merck's antiviral pill to treat COVID-19, the Guardian reports.
Last month, Merck reported that its antiviral treatment molnupiravir, which is taken as four pills twice a day for five days, reduced the risk of hospitalization or death among high-risk individuals with COVID-19 by 50 percent. According to the company, the findings led an independent monitoring board to recommend ending the trial early and Merck, which developed the treatment with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, to seek authorization for it.
According to the Guardian, the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has found the treatment to be safe and effective, clearing the way for its use among individuals with mild or moderate COVID-19 and an underlying condition that puts them at increased risk of developing severe disease, such as heart disease.
"Lagevrio [molnupiravir] is another therapeutic to add to our armory against COVID-19," June Raine, the chief executive of MHRA, says in a statement, according to NPR. "It is also the world's first approved antiviral for this disease that can be taken by mouth rather than administered intravenously. This is important, because it means it can be administered outside of a hospital setting, before COVID-19 has progressed to a severe stage."