New COVID-19 Pills Can Keep Newly Diagnosed Patients Out Of The Hospital, Says Company

According to early data released by pharmaceutical firms Merck and Ridgeback, COVID-19 Pills taking a five-day course of a specific antiviral medication soon after a COVID-19 diagnosis can reduce the chance of being hospitalized or dying from the virus by half.

If the Food and Drug Administration approves molnupiravir, it will be the first antiviral tablet that patients may take at home to minimize their chances of ending up in the hospital due to the coronavirus. The drug would require a prescription and would most likely be for those who have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.

“This is the first oral antiviral that will be available to combat COVID-19 and why that’s so important, if you think of it if you’re someone who is unfortunate enough to get the news that you’ve contracted COVID-19, this is the pill, you can take it home and will significantly reduce the risk that you either ultimately are hospitalized or more importantly that you would ever face the unfortunate outcome of death,” Robert M. Davis, the chief executive officer and president of Merck told “Good Morning America” Friday.

“It’s extremely exciting,” said Dr. Carlos Del Rio, the Emory School of Medicine’s executive associate dean and a global health expert.

Most COVID-19 patients are currently sent home with instructions to monitor their symptoms. Del Rio noted that having an effective medication to provide them would “make a difference.”

Merck stated on Thursday morning that the findings of an ongoing Phase 3 research are so compelling that an independent monitoring board advised, in conjunction with the FDA, that the trial be terminated early so that the firms can seek approval quickly. At that point, the entire set of data would be exposed to the public.

“This is an antiviral that is taken orally. As a result, it’s a pill. You accept it. It’s a five-day course of therapy in which you take a tablet that really inserts into the virus’s RNA and prevents it from operating, which is the magic of how this works and allows you to greatly minimize the danger of hospitalization or death “Davis stated his opinion.

The trial volunteers’ vaccine status was not disclosed in the press release, but doctors say pills like this should never be used as a substitute for vaccines, which have been tested in hundreds of thousands of people in large clinical trials and are the most effective way to reduce the risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID — as well as the risk of becoming infected.

Other pharmaceutical firms, including Pfizer and Roche, are developing antiviral medicines for COVID-19 patients that might be accessible shortly. Merck intends to apply for emergency approval in the United States “as soon as feasible” in order to begin widespread distribution of its antiviral tablet.

The business has begun manufacturing the tablets, with an aim of generating 10 million courses by the end of the year. The United States has already requested 1.7 million doses at a cost of more than $1 billion.

Doctors now have certain therapies to aid individuals who are already sick with the virus, but they’re inconvenient since they’re delivered through intravenous infusion and are normally reserved for patients who are hospitalized or are at high risk of becoming so.

Dr. Todd Ellerin, head of infectious diseases at South Shore Health and an ABC News Med Unit contributor, said, “What we really need is the Tamiflu, if you will, for COVID-19.” “It’s conceivable that the agent is molnupiravir.”

Molnupiravir is an antiviral medication that works by stopping the virus that causes COVID-19 from replicating.

People who tested positive for COVID-19 during the past five days were divided into two groups in an early review of 775 participants in a late-stage clinical study. The medication was given to the first group, while the placebo pill was given to the second.

In comparison to a little over 7% of individuals who received the actual medication, over 14% of those who received the placebo were hospitalized or died.

“I believe this is interesting,” Ellerin added, “since an oral antiviral is desperately needed.” An oral antiviral that may be administered early in the course is critically needed.”

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