UK to run study of Merck’s Covid pill

Country was first in world to approve treatment

Merck’s drug provides the UK with another tool to fight Covid as the country advances with an aggressive campaign to administer booster shots and Europe combats another wave of infections.

Merck’s drug provides the UK with another tool to fight Covid as the country advances with an aggressive campaign to administer booster shots and Europe combats another wave of infections.

 

The UK, the first country in the world to approve Merck ’s Covid pill, is expected to start providing the therapy to its population through a national study in about 10,000 people.

Run by the University of Oxford, the study is set to begin recruiting participants early next month, giving the country key data on how well the drug, molnupiravir, works in vaccinated people.

The results will allow the National Health Service to better plan the rollout of antiviral treatments to the people who need them most, the health department said in an emailed statement.

The drug provides the UK with another tool to fight Covid as the country advances with an aggressive campaign to administer booster shots and Europe combats another wave of infections.

The UK about a year ago became the first western country to approve a Covid vaccine, racing ahead of many nations.

Access

Early moves by countries including the UK to secure Covid pills have also raised concern that lower-income nations struggling to vaccinate their populations will be left behind again, though both Merck and Pfizer have reached licensing agreements aimed at widening access.

Merck’s drug earlier this month was authorized for use in the UK in people with mild to moderate Covid and with at least one risk factor for developing severe illness. The UK also unveiled deals to secure the Merck and Pfizer antivirals.

“Molnupiravir is a ground-breaking treatment that will help the most vulnerable and we are working at pace across the government and with the NHS to set out plans to deploy it to patients through a national study as soon as possible,” the health department wrote.

The study, called Panoramic, is expected to be the initial route for giving people access to antivirals in the U.K. Patients in the study will be asked to provide updates on their health to show how the treatments are working. – Bloomberg