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UK becomes the first country to authorise new oral antiviral pill to treat COVID-19

November 4th, 2021
Handout/Merck & Co. Inc./AFP/Getty Images

The UK has become the first country to authorise the use of a new antiviral pill to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults at risk for severe illness.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency announced today it gave Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ oral antiviral, molnupiravir the OK.

The pill is the world’s first oral antiviral to be authorized anywhere for the treatment of COVID-19. It comes in capsule form and will be known as Lagevrio.

The companies have also sought US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for the drug, and the FDA says it will convene its Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee on November 30th to discuss molnupiravir’s ability to treat mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in adults who are at high risk for severe disease, including hospitalization or death.

Merck announced last month that the capsule reduced the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by half.

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