The American pharmaceutical company Merck announced the successful completion of clinical trials of an experimental drug Molnupiravir for the treatment of COVID-19. The company intends to obtain a license to start selling the drug from the US and other countries of the world as soon as possible. If approved by regulators, these will be the world’s first pills that, unlike vaccines, not only reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus infection, but fight the disease.
Molnupiravir was originally developed by the pharmaceutical company Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory at Emory University as an antiviral drug for the treatment of influenza. The drug is incorporated into the RNA of the virus and causes mutations in the viral RNA to the point where the virus can no longer replicate. The drug was once bought out by another American pharmaceutical company, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, which later connected Merck to the development of the drug.
Tests on the drug have shown that it halves the likelihood of being hospitalized or dying with COVID-19, Merck said in a statement. So, among patients receiving the drug, only 7.3% were hospitalized after 29 days from the beginning of the trial. Among those who received a placebo, the rate of hospitalizations and deaths reached 14.1%. The study involved 775 adults with COVID-19, whom doctors consider to be more at risk of severe illness: people with obesity, diabetes or heart disease.
Following the publication of the test results, Merck shares are demonstrating the strongest dynamics over the past 12 years, adding about 9% in price.