Nov 26, 2021 - Health

Updated data shows Merck antiviral COVID pill less effective

Photo: Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Photo: Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Merck said Friday updated data from a study on its experimental COVID-19 pill showed the drug is less effective than initially reported.

Driving the news: The drugmaker said molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death for patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 by about 30%, based on a study of more than 1,400 adults. Last month, the company said the study showed about 50% efficacy, based on data from 775 patients.

What they're saying: Merck said in a statement Friday the interim analysis and additional analyses still "support the efficacy and overall favorable benefit-risk assessment of molnupiravir for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults at high risk for disease progression."

What to watch: Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics submitted an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the drug in October.

  • A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee is scheduled to meet next week to discuss the efficacy of molnupiravir.
  • Merck said it's shared the updated data with the FDA.

The big picture: An oral antiviral drug designed to prevent or treat COVID-19 could be a key tool to combat the pandemic, Axios' Alison Snyder reports.

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

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