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Merck and Ridgeback’s Experimental Oral COVID-19 Antiviral Halves Risk of Hospitalization or Death

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 01 Oct 2021
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Merck’s (Kenilworth, NJ, USA) experimental oral COVID-19 antiviral drug, molnupiravir, developed in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ (Miami, FL, USA), significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death at a planned interim analysis of the Phase 3 MOVe-OUT trial in at risk, non-hospitalized adult patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19.

The planned interim analysis evaluated data from 775 patients who were initially enrolled in the Phase 3 MOVe-OUT trial on or prior to Aug. 5, 2021. Eligibility criteria required that all patients had laboratory-confirmed mild-to-moderate COVID-19, with symptom onset within five days of study randomization. All patients were required to have at least one risk factor associated with poor disease outcome at study entry.

At the interim analysis, molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50%; 7.3% of patients who received molnupiravir were either hospitalized or died through Day 29 following randomization (28/385), compared with 14.1% of placebo-treated patients (53/377). Through Day 29, no deaths were reported in patients who received molnupiravir, as compared to 8 deaths in patients who received placebo.

At the recommendation of an independent Data Monitoring Committee and in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recruitment into the study has been stopped early due to these positive results. Merck plans to submit an application for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the U.S. FDA as soon as possible based on these findings and plans to submit marketing applications to other regulatory bodies worldwide.

“With these compelling results, we are optimistic that molnupiravir can become an important medicine as part of the global effort to fight the pandemic and will add to Merck’s unique legacy of bringing forward breakthroughs in infectious diseases when they are needed most,” said Robert M. Davis, chief executive officer and president, Merck. “Consistent with Merck’s unwavering commitment to save and improve lives, we will continue to work with regulatory agencies on our applications and do everything we can to bring molnupiravir to patients as quickly as possible.”

“With the virus continuing to circulate widely, and because therapeutic options currently available are infused and/or require access to a healthcare facility, antiviral treatments that can be taken at home to keep people with COVID-19 out of the hospital are critically needed,” added Wendy Holman, chief executive officer of Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. “We are very encouraged by the results from the interim analysis and hope molnupiravir, if authorized for use, can make a profound impact in controlling the pandemic.”

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Ridgeback Biotherapeutics
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