Denmark’s government has now approved the usage of Merck & Co’s Molnupiravir antiviral drug to combat COVID-19.
The drug is approved to be used for Covid-19 patients who are also at risk of serious illness as well as elderly individuals.
Currently, the usage is under review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The increase in the number of cases in the continent has prompted EU drug regulators to issue advice in November on using the drug for adults ahead of providing a wider recommendation.
Announcing its approval for restricted use in Denmark, Health Authority chief medical officer Kirstine Moll Harboe said: “We believe that the benefits of being treated (with it) outweigh the disadvantages for those patients who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.”
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But Denmark isn’t the first country in Europe to approve the usage of the drug. Britain announced the approval last month.
The treatment is jointly developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and for which Merck says it has signed deals more than 7 million courses.
According to the EMA, patients were advised to commence treatment with the Merck tablet – branded as Lagevrio in the EU – within five days of first symptoms for adults that need oxygen support and are at risk of their disease worsening.
Also, recent trial data showed that the drug only reduced hospitalizations and deaths among high-risk patients by about 30%.
The EU regulator has also started a review of Paxlovid, which is a rival antiviral drug from Pfizer. The company announced last month that the drug cuts hospitalization or death by a whopping 89% for adults at risk of a severe infection.
There are possibilities of the drug getting approval from US regulators by the end of the year.