Merck's COVID-19 Pill Shows Lesser Efficacy Than It Was Previously Estimated

The company said its pill Molnupiravir showed a 30 percent reduction in hospitalizations and deaths now.

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American pharmaceutical company Merck & Co on Friday, 26 November said the updated data on its COVID-19 pill showed that it was less effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths than it was previously estimated.

The company said its pill Molnupiravir showed a 30 percent reduction in hospitalisations and deaths now. It came to this conclusion after studying data from over 1,400 patients.

While one death was reported in the group that received the drugmaker's pill, as many as nine deaths were reported in the group that got placebo.

Last month, based on data collected from 775 patients, the company said its pill had efficacy of roughly 50 percent, Reuters reported.


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The efficacy of Merck's COVID pill has reportedly gone down well below the efficacy provided by its rival drugmaker – Pfizer Inc's COVID pill – Paxlovid.

And hence, in pre-market trading, shares of Merck went down "by 3.4 percent to $79.46, negating earlier profits, while those of Pfizer rose by 5.9 percent," reported Bloomberg.

After analysis of a study involving 1,200 participants, Pfizer's data had shown that its COVID pill was 89 percent effective in reducing the risk of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

Merck had applied for US authorisation of Molnupiravir, also called as Lagevrio on 11 October, after obtaining interim data that showed its pill had the potential to cut down hospitalisations and deaths by 50 percent in high risk patients. Pfizer's pill has also been submitted for review to be used among the same population.

Merck said that the updated data on its COVID pill has been submitted to US Food and Drug Administration ahead of the company's meeting with its expert advisers on Tuesday regarding the use of the pill to treat high risk COVID patients.

Authorisations of Merck's pill and that of Pfizer are considered to be game changers in Coronavirus treatment as they can be used as early 'at-home' treatments, to prevent hospitalisations and deaths.

Besides, if the pills get authorised, they are likely to "overtake infused drugs monoclonal antibodies from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc and Eli Lilly & Co" which are more costly and difficult to use.

(With inputs from Bloomberg and Reuters)

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