UK becomes first nation to approve Merck's oral pills for coronavirus treatment
London : United Kingdom became the first nation to approve a potentially game-changing COVID-19 anti-viral pill developed jointly by U.S.-based Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, in a boost to the fight against the pandemic.
Britain's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recommended the drug, molnupiravir, be used as soon as possible following a positive COVID-19 test and within five days of the onset of symptoms, citing clinical data.
This is the first oral medicine approved for the treatment of coronavirus. Treatments to tackle the pandemic, which has killed more than 5.2 million people worldwide, have so far focused mainly on vaccines.
So far in case of critical patients, strong antiviral remdesivir and generic steroid dexamethasone were being infused to the patients.
Merck's Molnupiravir has been closely watched since data last month showed it could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for those most at risk of developing severe COVID-19 when given early in the illness.
The drug will be sold in UK with the name Lagevrio. It is recommended twice a day for five days.
"We are working at pace across the government and with the NHS to set out plans to deploy molnupiravir to patients through a national study as soon as possible," health secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement.