UK becomes the first country in the world to approve COVID-19 antiviral pill developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, according to a report by Reuters on Thursday.

  • Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) advocated the drug, molnupiravir, be used immediately after a positive COVID-19 test and within 5 days of the onset of symptoms. 
  • This is the first oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19 to get approval, with the green light coming before a potential U.S. regulatory clearance.
  • Treatments to manage the pandemic have mainly focused on vaccines. Other options, including Gilead’s infused antiviral remdesivir and generic steroid dexamethasone, are only used after a patient has been hospitalized.
  • Merck’s Molnupiravir has been closely observed since evidence last month revealed it could reduce the chances of dying or being hospitalized by 50% for people at the risk of developing severe COVID-19.

The drug is engineered to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus responsible for causing COVID-19 and is taken two times a day for five days. MRK down -0.38%.