Molnupiravir’s Covid treatment effectiveness is lower than estimated

Merck said the antiviral drug molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization and death in Covid-19 patients by 30%, lower than previous estimates of 50%.

Health officials around the world had hoped this was a life-saving tool, reducing the burden of treating hospitalized patients. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory Council will meet on November 30 to discuss the drug and vote on whether to authorize treatment for high-risk patients.

In a preliminary document posted on the FDA’s website on November 26, experts say the drug is safe and effective in preventing severe symptoms, but has not said whether it should be approved.

Merck initially estimated the drug to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 50% based on the results of a study from 775 volunteers. The latest data come after an analysis of 1,400 patients. In the last trial, people taking molnupiravir had a 6.8% risk of hospitalization, one patient dying. The placebo group had a 9.7% risk of hospitalization and 9 deaths.

Dr. David Boulware, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, expects the regulator to approve the drug. If given the green light, people infected with nCoV in the US can use molnupiravir within the next week.

“The effectiveness of the drug is slightly reduced, but there is still a great benefit in preventing deaths if treatment is started early,” he said.

He said molnupiravir can be considered as a low-grade drug, an alternative for people who cannot use other methods.

The anti-Covid-19 drug molnupiravir, developed by two companies Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, was announced on September 17. Photo: Reuters

Previously, the US has licensed the use of monoclonal antibody therapy, effective over 70%, preventing hospitalization and death. But patients need intravenous infusion, can not be used easily even when symptoms appear. Pfizer’s antiretroviral drug Paxlovid reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by 89%. Fluvoxamine, a popular, low-cost antidepressant, is as effective as molnupiravir.

According to public health experts, the Covid-19 treatment pill is not a “silver bullet in the fight against the epidemic”, cannot replace vaccination, but is also a potential tool to reduce the burden on the system. medical system.

Molnupiravir is also being tested in phase 3 in Vietnam, being piloted by the Ministry of Health into the home F0 treatment bag. The effectiveness of the drug, initially assessed by the Ministry of Health, is to help reduce the viral load for patients who take the drug at an early stage with symptoms, prevent the risk of exacerbation, hospitalization and reduce mortality.

Thuc Linh (Follow NY Times)


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