Merck's full study results show drop in COVID-19 antiviral effectiveness

In a final analysis, the COVID-19 antiviral drug developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics reduced the risk of hospitalization or death among high-risk patients by about 30 percent, down from 48 percent in an earlier analysis. 

The latest estimates on the antiviral molnupiravir were released Nov. 26 and come from a trial with 1,433 participants. The drug cut the risk of hospitalization or death from 9.7 percent in the placebo group to 6.8 percent among those who received molnupiravir, for a relative risk reduction of 30 percent. 

Merck's earlier estimates from Oct. 1, which found the antiviral cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 48 percent, were based on an analysis of 775 participants. 

The antiviral is intended to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults at high risk for severe disease progression, according to the drugmaker.

The FDA is set to meet Nov. 30 to decide whether to approve molnupiravir under an emergency use authorization. 

Meanwhile, the FDA is also reviewing Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral drug, Paxlovid, which reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent in a phase 3 clinical trial.


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