The German pharmaceutical company Merck is trying to develop two orally administered drugs against Covid-19

The German pharmaceutical company Merck and a US partner reported promising results on Saturday in studies with an orally administered drug to fight COVID-19.

“At a time when there is an unmet need for antiviral treatments against SARS-CoV-2, we are encouraged by these preliminary data,” said Wendy Painter, chief medical officer of Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

In January, Merck stopped working on two COVID vaccine candidates, but continued research on two products to treat the disease, including a pill-based product called molnupiravir, which was developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

This drug caused a significant decrease in patients’ viral loads after five days of treatment, Merck said at a meeting with infectious disease experts.

This Phase 2a test – drug trials consist of three phases before a product can be approved – was conducted on 202 out-of-hospital people with symptoms of COVID-19.

There was no safety alert, and of four serious adverse events that were reported, none were considered associated with the use of this drug, Ridgeback said.

Oral antiviral drugs like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) are sometimes prescribed for the seasonal flu, but researchers have yet to come up with something similar to fight the coronavirus.

The results of this study – a faster decrease in viral load in people with early-stage COVID-19 who are treated with molnupiravir – are encouraging, said William Fischer, lead researcher on the study and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina.

“If backed up by additional studies, they could have important public health implications, especially as the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to spread and evolve around the world,” added Fischer.

Merck is also working on another oral COVID treatment called MK-711.

Preliminary results from clinical trials show that the risk of death or shortness of breath in patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 has decreased by more than 50 percent, the company said in January.

Merck ends development of two potential COVID-19 vaccines

© 2021 AFP

Quote: Oral Covid Treatment Provides Promising Study Data: Drug Manufacturers (2021, March 7), accessed March 7, 2021 from

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