Merck MRK, -3.79% and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said their COVID-19 antiviral molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death in at-risk adults with mild-to-moderate COVID to 6.8% from 9.7% in the placebo group in the latest update of data from its study dubbed MOVe-OUT. That is equal to an absolute risk reduction of 3.0% and a relative risk reduction of 30%. “Nine deaths were reported in the placebo group, and one in the molnupiravir group,” the companies said in a joint statement. “The adverse event profile for molnupiravir remained consistent with the profile reported at the planned interim analysis.” In October, the companies said molnupiravir cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 50% in a Phase 3 clinical trial. The companies have shared this latest data with the Food and Drug Administration, which is currently reviewing the data for a possible emergency use authorization for the treatment. Antivirals are expected to become a game changer in the pandemic as they can be easily taken at home, unlike existing treatments which must be administered either by infusion or subcutaneously in a clinical setting. Merck shares were down 2.8% premarket.
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