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Merck COVID-19 Pill Granted Authorization From UK Medicines Regulator; Receives More Orders From Governments Worldwide

Merck & Co., Inc.
Merck & Co., Inc. company logo (Photo: AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Merck & Co.’s antiviral COVID-19 pill has secured its first authorization from the UK medicines regulator. Public health experts have hailed this drug as an important medicine to combat the pandemic.

Merck COVID-19 pill

An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill called molnupiravir being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is seen in this undated handout photo released by Merck & Co Inc and obtained by Reuters May 17, 2021. Merck & Co Inc/Handout via REUTERS

UK Medicines Regulator Gives Green Light to Merck COVID-19 Pill

On Thursday, November 4, Financial Times reported that the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency of the UK has granted authorization to Merck COVID-19 pill under the trademark Lagevrio. This allows it to be prescribed to mild and moderate cases of COVID-19, as well as to those who have at least one risk factor for severe illness.

With that said, this marks the first green light for the easy-to-administer oral treatment, molnupiravir. Previous studies have shown that the drug has halved the risk for hospitalization or death.

The company has also applied for an emergency authorization from the US and the EU but has yet to receive a reply. Their antiviral COVID-19 drug has attracted many governments since the positive results of their phase 3 clinical trial.

Countries Order Merck COVID-19 Pill

Countries all over the world have purchased the Merck COVID-19 pill since it published its test results. For example, the UK has purchased almost half a million doses of molnupiravir. Also, the US has ordered 1.7 million courses of the drug with a total cost of $1.2 billion.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that France health minister Olivier Veran announced that the country has also placed a pre-order of around 50,000 doses of the antiviral COVID-19 pill of Merck.

In Asia, a separate report of Reuters reported that the Philippines is set to receive 300,000 courses of Merck COVID-19 pill this month as Asian countries race to get early access to the experimental pill. Other Asian countries who already placed an order include Singapore and Malaysia.