UK Approves Merck’s Molnupiravir As First Pill To Treat COVID19 Adult Patients
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United Kingdom Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has granted authorization in the United Kingdom (U.K.) for Merck’s molnupiravir as a first oral antiviral pill authorized for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults with a positive SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test and who have at least one risk factor for developing severe illness.
“The first global authorization of molnupiravir is a major achievement in Merck’s singular legacy of bringing forward breakthrough medicines and vaccines to address the world’s greatest health challenges. In pursuit of Merck’s unwavering mission to save and improve lives, we will continue to move with both rigor and urgency to bring molnupiravir to patients around the world as quickly as possible,” said Robert M. Davis, chief executive officer and president, Merck.
“As an oral therapeutic, molnupiravir offers an important addition to the vaccines and medicines deployed so far to counter the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Dean Y. Li, executive vice president and president, Merck Research Laboratories. “We are very grateful to the investigators, patients and their families for their critical contributions to the MOVe-OUT study that made this authorization possible.”
The authorization is based on positive results from a planned interim analysis from the Phase 3 MOVe-OUT clinical trial, which evaluated molnupiravir 800 mg twice-daily in non-hospitalized, unvaccinated adult patients with laboratory-confirmed mild-to-moderate COVID-19, symptom onset within five days of study randomization and at least one risk factor associated with poor disease outcomes (e.g., heart disease, diabetes).
“When we embarked on the journey to take molnupiravir from a hope to a reality, we believed we had a responsibility to move as quickly and safely as possible. We believed each day saved could save lives and limit severe disease and the global hardships of this pandemic,” said Wendy Holman, chief executive officer, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. “It is gratifying to reach this milestone and show that the extraordinary effort of our collaborators, patients, physicians and team and the personal sacrifices made have now achieved that important goal. It is also gratifying to see the first global authorization occur in the U.K., the very place where we administered molnupiravir to the first brave human volunteer.”
As part of its commitment to widespread global access, Merck previously announced that it has entered into a licensing agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool to increase broad access for molnupiravir in low- and middle-income countries.
Additionally, Merck previously announced that the company has entered into non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements for molnupiravir with established Indian generic manufacturers to accelerate availability of molnupiravir in more than 100 low- and middle-income countries following approvals or emergency authorization by local regulatory agencies.
In anticipation of the results from MOVe-OUT and the potential for regulatory authorization or approval, Merck has been producing molnupiravir at risk and expects to produce 10 million courses of treatment by the end of 2021, with at least 20 million courses to be produced in 2022.