Receive our newsletter – data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. News
November 29, 2021

Molnupiravir: Merck’s Covid-19 antiviral less effective in new analysis

Updated data on molnupiravir shows the drug reduces hospitalisation or death by 30%, down from the initially reported 50% efficacy.

By Darcy Jimenez

Merck has provided updated data on its Covid-19 antiviral, molnupiravir, that shows the antiviral to be significantly less effective against the virus than previously thought.

The new analysis, shared by the company on Friday, shows treatment with molnupiravir reduces hospitalisation or death by 30%. The drug’s efficacy is considerably lower than what was reported in interim analysis in October, when molnupiravir was said to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death by around 50%.

The updated results are based on an analysis of data from all 1,433 enrolled patients in the MOVe-OUT study of the drug. Merck said both the interim analysis and additional data “support the efficacy and overall favourable benefit-risk assessment” of molnupiravir as a treatment for mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in those at high risk of severe disease.

This data will be further scrutinized tomorrow at a US FDA Advisory committee meeting being held to discuss molnupiravir’s potential emergency use authorisation. The Phase II/III results were planned for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine today but have been delayed because of new information, the journal said.

Molnupiravir has been touted as a potential game-changer in the fight against Covid-19 ever since the interim data showing drastic reductions in hospitalisation and death were released. Initial enthusiasm for the drug led to its approval by the UK’s medicines regulator in early November, and purchase agreements for large supplies of the drug have been made with a number of countries.

The company’s updated results for molnupiravir come just days after a new SARS-Cov-2 variant, Omicron (B.1.1.529), was detected in South Africa. The variant has since been identified in several other countries – including Australia, the UK and Canada – and has been classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is not yet clear how the mutations in the new variant affects the virus’s transmissibility, severity of disease or the effectiveness of currently available vaccines and treatments, as per the WHO.

Content from our partners
How Hengst helped to keep Germany’s charity “star singers” shining
Why this global life sciences COO believes relocation to Charleston, SC, was key to achieving next-level success
Patient-centric pharma logistics: How CRYOPDP delivers hope worldwide

Omicron’s emergence has also put the spotlight on Pfizer’s antiviral, Paxlovid, which is also vying for an emergency use authorisation based on an 89% efficacy in reducing Covid-19-associated hospitalisation or death. Pfizer is also yet to publish results from its own Paxlovid trial but has signed several delivery agreements already.

Related Companies

NEWSLETTER Sign up Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly roundup of the latest news and analysis, sent every Friday. The pharmaceutical industry's most comprehensive news and information delivered every month.
I consent to GlobalData UK Limited collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
SUBSCRIBED

THANK YOU