BENGALURU: The experimental COVID-19 drug Molnupiravir could be promising in treating Covid patients with mild to moderate symptoms, going by the announcement made on October 2 by the company, Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutic, after completing the Phase 3 trials.
According to the preliminary data available, doctors say this could be useful in treating COVID-19 patients in the early stages of the disease as the company reported a 50 percent drop in hospitalization and death.
"While we have medicines for moderate to severe patients, for mild patients we are still struggling without a proper drug. If the data is correct, this medicine could be a game-changer. Due to positive results, the trial was stopped early. It can be taken orally in the outpatient department, without requiring admission," said Dr Chinnadurai R., Lead Consultant, Department of Critical Care, Aster RV Hospital.
The data was drawn from 775 patients and reported that 7.3 percent of patients who received the drug were either hospitalized or died by day 29, as compared to 14.1 percent of the placebo patients.
"Molnupiravir induces 'lethal mutagenesis' thereby reducing viral replication. 775 is a small number and the study is yet to be peer-reviewed and published. We have to see the clinical benefit on the ground and also wait for the regulatory approval. Unlike Remdesivir, it need not be injected," said Dr. Anoop Amarnath, Head, Scientific Board and Chairman-Geriatric Medicine, Manipal Hospital and member of the state's COVID-19 Critical Care Support Team.
Further studies have to be done but the early results are encouraging, said Dr Suhas HS, Consultant Pulmonologist at Columbia Asia Hospital.
"The company intends to approach the US Food and Drug Administration for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) but we need to see how cost-effective it is in the Indian setting. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 vaccine remains the most effective way to bring down the severity of disease and mortality, and must be actively promoted," Dr. Suhas added.
In India, five companies are conducting trials for this drug - Cipla, Dr. Reddy's, Emcure, Sun Pharma and Torrent.