merck

UK approve antiviral pill to treat COVID-19

The UK have become the first country to approve an oral pill said to ease covid symptoms significantly in those suffering with mild-to-moderate symptoms.

The Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency authorised the drug to be used within the UK by people at home who have mild to moderate Covid symptoms.

The drug, which is manufactured by US pharmaceutical company Merck, underwent clinical trials which showed that the risk of hospitalisation was halved, and death was halved in those who were suffering from Covid symptoms.

The UK placed an order for nearly half a million courses of molnupiravir as the first pill available to the market. Other pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Roche and also working on similar medication which are currently going through the trial process.

Out of the 775 participants who had covid, only 7.3% of those given the drug were hospitalised compared to 14.1% of those who were given a placebo pill. The trial showed there were no deaths in the patients given molnupiravir but 8 patients who were given a placebo did later die of Covid.

Health Secretary, Sajid Javid said: "Today is a historic day for our country, as the UK is now the first country in the world to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home for Covid."

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said: "The NHS stands ready to support the planned study on molnupiravir and other antivirals in patients at higher risk of complications, and to provide wider roll out if it is shown to be clinically and cost effective in reducing hospitalisations and death."

The introduction of the pill comes at a time when the NHS are notoriously overrun with winter related illnesses. It is hoped that the at home treatment, which should be taken twice a day and soon after symptoms develop will help to ease the pressures on the NHS.

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NHE Sept/Oct 21

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