New analysis shows Merck’s Covid pill less effective

The new data also led to a 3 per cent fall in Merck's shares in pre-market trading, amid a fall in the broader markets.

New York: Merck’s updated data on its molnupiravir pill against Covid-19 has shown to be 30 per cent less effective in reducing the risk of hospitalisation and deaths than an earlier interim analysis.

According to the interim data released by the US drugmaker in October, the pill was 50 per cent able to reduce hospitalisations and deaths in 775 patients. The updated rate on Friday is based on data from over 1,400 patients, the CNBC reported.

The new data also led to a 3 per cent fall in Merck’s shares in pre-market trading, amid a fall in the broader markets.

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A planned interim analysis of the data last month showed that 7.3 per cent of those given molnupiravir twice a day for five days were hospitalised and none had died by 29 days after the treatment. That compared with a hospitalisation rate of 14.1 per cent for placebo patients.

In the updated data, 6.8 per cent of those given molnupiravir were hospitalised and one person died, while the other placebo group had a hospitalisation rate of 9.7 per cent.

So far, the UK is the only country to grant a conditional authorisation to Merck’s Covid pill.

The company said the data on the drug molnupiravir, developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, had been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration ahead of a meeting of its expert advisers on Tuesday.

Molnupiravir is also pending review at regulators in Europe and other countries.

The company has also agreed to allow other drugmakers to make its pill, in a move aimed at helping millions of people in poorer countries get access.

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