Could A COVID Pill Stop ‘The Virus In Its Tracks’?
A new experimental drug is being tested and shows promise of eliminating COVID-19 just by taking a pill.
The pill, Molnupiravir, which is being developed by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck (MRK), was found to reduce the virus in individuals after five days of treatment in a mid-stage study, the companies announced in a release on March 6.
While more studies of Molnupiravir are underway, the companies say the pill could provide a viable way to treat those that have symptoms of COVID-19 and be the first oral antiviral drug to combat the virus.
Dr. Marc Siegel, a medical contributor for Fox News, told “Fox & Friends” in an interview on Sunday that the pill “may be the holy grail on this because it was just studied in phase two trials and it literally stopped the virus in its tracks. And there wasn’t any virus found in the patients that were studied.”
The pill would be used as a five-day, at-home treatment, similar to Tamiflu, that would stop the coronavirus from reproducing and causing additional damage, which Siegel told the news outlet could be available to the market within the next four to five months.
The pill was only studied on 182 patients, but Siegel said on “Fox & Friends” it could still prove to be promising.
He continued, “This might be the future once the vaccine really gets control over the pandemic and we just start seeing isolated cases. By then, this drug might be ready and this might be the drug for over the next several months.”
With the COVID vaccine rolling out to millions of Americans, Seigel predicted during the interview that the U.S. would be free of the COVID pandemic by summer with the pill being used to treat isolated cases.
“This is the very first pill that we have that’s something that we might be able to use in our armamentarium against COVID as a therapeutic,” he added.
If approved, Molnupiravir would be the second antiviral used to treat COVID-19. Currently, Gilead’s remdesivir has been authorized for use but has shown limited benefits to those that are hospitalized with the virus, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The 182-patient Phase 2 trial of Molnupiravir looked at varying doses of the drug in people that had COVID-19 symptoms within the previous week and tested positive for the virus within four days but were not hospitalized.
The study found that those individuals that took the drug twice a day after five days of treatment did not have any detection of the virus, while 24% of placebo patients did. Those who took larger doses of the pill also had lower infection levels of the virus after three days than the placebo group.
According to the WSJ, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics co-founder Wayne Holman said at a virtual meeting of infectious-disease scientists over the weekend that the findings indicate that the pill prevents the virus from replicating in the body, suggesting proof that an oral antiviral drug would be effective against COVID-19.
Merck said it expects to have interim results by the end of the month of two late-stage trials for COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, the WSJ reported.
Shares of Merck were trading at $73.58 as of premarket open on Monday, up 45 cents of 0.62%.
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