Merck says its COVID-19 antiviral pill is effective against omicron

Merck said Jan. 28 that molnupiravir, the COVID-19 antiviral pill it developed with Ridgeback Therapeutics, showed "consistent antiviral activity" against the omicron variant.

The announcement is based on data from six preclinical studies conducted in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and the U.S., according to a news release.

"These findings from multiple independent in vitro studies showing that molnupiravir has consistent antiviral activity against omicron, the primary variant circulating globally, provide additional confidence in the potential of molnupiravir as an important treatment option for certain adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk for progressing to severe disease," Dean Y. Li, MD, PhD, president of  Merck Research Laboratories, said in the release.

The FDA authorized molnupiravir Dec. 23 for people 18 and older who are at high risk of developing severe illness when alternative treatments are "not accessible or clinically appropriate." It was not authorized for younger patients because the drug may affect bone and cartilage growth.


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