COVID-19 Antiviral Pills Facts And Times Lines

Following the regulatory approvals for the world’s first Anti COVID pill Molnupiravir, the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 antiviral pill being developed by Merck in partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, as well as the one being developed by Pfizer, as the drugs could improve patients’ outcomes if they receive FDA emergency use authorization. Here are six updates from the past five weeks.

Oct. 1: Merck announced that its COVID-19 antiviral drug molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by about 50 percent in a phase 3 trial. The results, based on data from 775 clinical trial participants, showed that no COVID-19 deaths were reported in those who received molnupiravir, compared with eight deaths in the placebo group.

Oct. 11: Merck applied for emergency use authorization from the FDA for molnupiravir, asking for the drug to be authorized to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults at risk of progressing to severe disease. 

Oct. 14: The FDA announced it will hold a meeting Nov. 30 in which a panel of outside advisers will discuss a potential emergency use authorization for molnupiravir.

Oct. 27: Merck signed a licensing deal that allows other drugmakers to manufacture molnupiravir, a move that will create cheaper access to the drug in low-income nations. The deal will allow companies in 105 countries, most of which are in Africa and Asia, to manufacture the pill. 

Nov. 4: The U.K.’s medicines regulator granted emergency authorization to molnupiravir. 

Nov 5: Pfizer said Nov. 5 that its COVID-19 antiviral pill, called Paxlovid, reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent in clinical trials. The drugmaker plans to file for emergency use authorization from the FDA as soon as possible. 


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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