5 updates on COVID-19 treatments

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As vaccination rates lag and people across the country continue to contract COVID-19, millions are being poured into development efforts for COVID-19 treatments. Here are five key updates:

  1. Molnupiravir, Merck's COVID-19 antiviral pill, could become available soon.

    On Oct. 1, Merck said the pill reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by about 50 percent in a phase 3 trial. On Oct. 11, the drugmaker filed the pill's application for FDA emergency use authorization.

    Merck expects to produce 10 million courses of treatment by the end of 2021. Each course of treatment requires patients to take 40 pills over five days.

  2. Pfizer and Roche also are developing COVID-19 antiviral pills.

    Pfizer is developing a pill known as PF-07321332. On Sept. 1, the drugmaker began a combined phase 2 and 3 trial for the drug.

    Roche is developing a pill known as AT-527 with Atea Pharmaceuticals. Atea officials said they expect results from phase 2 and phase 3 trials later in 2021.

  3. On July 30, the FDA revised its emergency use authorization for Regeneron's COVID-19 antibody cocktail July 30, allowing the treatment to be used as a post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19 in individuals who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.

    The treatment, a cocktail of casirivimab and imdevimab, was granted FDA emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 patients in November.

    The FDA stipulated that the antibody cocktail is authorized as a COVID-19 prophylaxis only for individuals who have been exposed to the virus. The agency also said the treatment is not a substitute for a COVID-19 vaccine.

  4. On Sept. 16, the FDA revised its emergency use authorization for Eli Lilly's COVID-19 antibody cocktail, allowing the treatment to be used as a post-exposure prophylaxis.

    The treatment, bamlanivimab and etesevimab administered together, was granted FDA emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 patients in February.

  5. On Oct. 5, AstraZeneca filed for FDA emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 antibody cocktail to be used as a prophylaxis of symptomatic COVID-19. The treatment is a combination of antibodies tixagevimab and cilgavimab.

    The drugmaker said clinical trials found the drug caused a 77 percent reduction in risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19, and that the drug has the potential to protect people not expected to have an adequate immune response to a vaccine.
 

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