Covid-19: Just over a month ago, drugmakers MSD and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics reported that the oral drug molnupiravir was able to reduce the number of deaths caused by covid-19 in patients with mild to moderate cases. Now the UK has become the first country to approve medication for the treatment of infectious disease.
The antiviral molnupiravir, branded as Lagevrio, was found to be safe and effective in reducing hospitalization of patients with mild to moderate covid-19, decreasing the risk of death and serious illness.
“After a rigorous review of the data by our scientists and medical experts, we are pleased that Lagevrio [molnupiravir] is safe and effective for those at risk of developing severe Covid-19 disease, so we have given its approval,” said the Chief Executive of the MHRA (UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency), June Raine.
Fewer deaths in mild and moderate cases
To date, MSD and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics have manufactured nearly half a million doses of the drug and are expected to ship in mid-November 2021. Initially, treatment will be a priority for patients in at-risk groups and the elderly.
Treatment consists of up to two pills a day and can be done at home — it is important to reiterate that the medication will only be applied to patients with at least one risk factor, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease, or people aged at least 60 years .
“The UK is now the first country in the world to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home for covid-19. This will be a game changer for the most vulnerable and the immunosuppressed, who will soon be able to receive the innovative treatment,” said Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
Professor Peter Horby, one of the leaders of the covid-19 recovery and treatment trials at Oxford University, revealed that the UK decision was extremely important in combating the pandemic around the world. “The approval of an oral antiviral for covid-19 is a huge scientific achievement and, to me, it seems like a game changer,” Horby said.