Merck’s COVID-19 Pill Shows Lower Efficacy in Updated Data

An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill called molnupiravir and developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP can be seen in this undated photo released by Merck & Co Inc and obtained by Reuters on October 26, 2021. Merck & Co Inc /Handout via REUTERS

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November 26 (Reuters) – Merck & Co (MRK.N) said Friday that updated data from his research on his experimental COVID-19 pill showed the drug was less effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths than previously reported.

The drugmaker said its pill saw a 30% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths, based on data from more than 1,400 patients. In October, the data showed an efficacy of approximately 50%, based on data from 775 patients.

Merck shares fell 3% to $79.80 in premarket trading amid a decline in broader markets.

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The company filed for a US authorization of the drug molnupiravir on Oct. 11, following the interim data. read more

Merck said Friday that the data on molnupiravir, developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, had been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ahead of a meeting of its expert advisors on Tuesday.

The FDA scientists are expected to publish their briefing papers before the meeting as early as Friday.

The panel is expected to vote on whether the agency will recommend approving the oral capsules for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults at risk for serious illness.

A planned interim analysis of the data last month found that 7.3% of those given molnupiravir twice daily for five days were hospitalized and none had died 29 days after treatment. That compared to a hospitalization rate of 14.1% for patients on placebo.

In the updated data, 6.8% of those who received molnupiravir were hospitalized and one person died, while the other placebo group had a hospitalization rate of 9.7%.

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Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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