Drugmaker Merck on Friday reported that its antiviral pill cut the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 in half in a new interim analysis of trial data.
The company said it would submit an emergency use authorization application to the Food and Drug Administration “as soon as possible.” If cleared, it would be the first pill authorized to treat COVID-19.
More than 7% of patients who received the drug, called molnupiravir, were either hospitalized or died through nearly a month of the trial, compared to 14% of people who received the placebo, according to Merck.
Additionally, no deaths were reported in the timeframe in trial participants who received the pill, while eight people who received the placebo died.
“With these compelling results, we are optimistic that molnupiravir can become an important medicine as part of the global effort to fight the pandemic and will add to Merck’s unique legacy of bringing forward breakthroughs in infectious diseases when they are needed most,” Merck CEO Robert Davis said in a statement.
The company said it was able to stop its trial early because of the “positive results.”
“With the virus continuing to circulate widely, and because therapeutic options currently available are infused and/or require access to a healthcare facility, antiviral treatments that can be taken at home to keep people with COVID-19 out of the hospital are critically needed,” said Wendy Holman, CEO of Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, which partnered with Merck on the pill.