Merck Pill Loses Some Luster

New data have downgraded the power of Merck’s experimental COVID-19 pill to reduce hospitalization and death risks from 50% to 30%, STAT reports.
 
In the final analysis of the 1,433-patient study, 1 participant receiving the pill died during the trial, compared with 9 placebo group deaths.
 
The update, shared by Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics last Friday, coincides with the FDA’s prep for an advisory meeting tomorrow evaluating the companies’ emergency-use authorization request, The Washington Post reports.
 
Possible concerns:
 
In pregnancy: The drug could potentially disrupt the healthy development of a fetus.
 
Mutations: Initial concerns were raised that the drug could spur mutations , though that appears unlikely given the 5-day treatment duration, STAT reports.
  
Still, the advantages over existing treatments are clear for molnupiravir, which can be taken at home. It seems likely the FDA could advise limiting the drug’s use in people who are pregnant, hospitalized, and vaccinated, reserving it for patients at higher risk of hospitalization or death.

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