Nov 19, 2021 - Health

EU regulator backs Merck's antiviral COVID pill for emergency use

A photo of capsules of Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics' Molnupiravir antiviral COVID pill.

A photo of capsules of Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics' molnupiravir antiviral COVID pill. Photo: Merck

The European Medicines Agency Friday issued advice for a pill developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to treat COVID-19, allowing medical professionals to prescribe the drug in emergency situations.

Why it matters: It gives European nations another tool to treat potentially severe cases of the disease, though the drug, known as molnupiravir or Lagevrio, has not been approved for marketing in the EU.

  • The European Medicines Agency said the drug can be prescribe to adults with COVID-19 who do not require supplemental oxygen and who are at increased risk of developing severe symptoms.
  • It recommended that the drug be taken within 5 days of the start of symptoms and continued twice a day for 5 days.

The big picture: The United Kingdom's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency earlier this month because the first governmental body to approve molnupiravir.

  • U.S. health regulators are still in the process of reviewing the drug, though the Biden administration has already agreed to buy 3.1 million courses of it, worth around $2.2 billion, in anticipation of approval.

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