In news- The United Kingdom became the first country in the world to approve Merck’s oral COVID-19 antiviral pill.
About the pill-
- It was jointly developed by U.S.-based Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
- Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recommended the drug, for use in people with mild to moderate COVID-19.
- It will be administered as soon as possible following a positive COVID-19 test and within five days of the onset of symptoms.
- The green light is the first for an oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19 and the first for a COVID-19 drug that will be administered widely in the community.
- The pill, which will be branded as Lagevrio in Britain, is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and is taken twice a day for five days.
- In clinical trials the pill, originally developed to treat flu, cut the risk of hospitalisation or death by about half.
- Drugs in the same class as molnupiravir have been linked to birth defects in animal studies.
- It targets an enzyme that the virus uses to make copies of itself, introducing errors into its genetic code.
- It could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for those most at risk of developing severe COVID-19 when given early in the illness.
How does it work?
- Molnupiravir works by introducing errors in the mechanism, involving RNA replication, by which the virus makes copies of itself once it has infected an individual.
- By tricking the virus into incorporating its material into copies of its RNA, the drug causes mutations to accumulate, eventually rendering it unable to reproduce.
- By keeping virus levels low in the body, the pill is thus able to reduce the severity of the disease.