Merck antiviral used more than expected, data shows

Physicians have been prescribing Merck's COVID-19 antiviral at higher-than-expected rates amid shortages of Pfizer's antiviral Paxlovid, The Wall Street Journal reported March 14. 

Clinical trial results show Paxlovid is more effective than Merck's molnupiravir, spurring the FDA to recommend clinicians use the latter only when alternative treatment options are not accessible or clinically appropriate. 

However, U.S. prescriptions for the antiviral pills have been pretty comparable since they were authorized in December 2021. About 74,700 prescriptions for Merck's pill were filled through Feb. 25, compared to about 79,150 for Pfizer's, according to Iqvia Holdings data cited by the Journal.

Many physicians relied heavily on molnupiravir during the omicron surge, as Paxlovid supplies have been limited and some antibody drugs aren't effective against the variant. Some patients are also not eligible to receive Paxlovid due to the potential for harmful effects from mixing it with their other medications.

Some physicians have voiced concerns about the use of molnupiravir, as lab testing suggests the pill could cause birth defects or male fertility issues. Some research also suggests the drug may lead to more virus mutations, which could open the door for new variants.  

View the full article here.

 

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