The New Jersey-based pharmaceutical firm, Merck, revealed last week their antiviral pill for Covid-19 known as molnupiravir. The company claims that this medication that they’re developing can cut hospitalizations and deaths among COVID-19 infected individuals to half, reports Merck.com. However, recent findings suggest that the pill could be carrying severe health and safety concerns.
Fears surrounding molnupiravir
Molnupiravir from Merck is said to be heading for a Food and Drug Administration review for emergency authorization. It was pointed out, though, by scientists in a recent report that it could potentially bear the concerns mentioned above.
It was noted that the oral Covid-19 medication fuses into the virus’ genetic makeup as this causes a large number of mutations in destroying the virus. Nonetheless, several laboratory tests indicate molnupiravir’s ability to cause mutations within the mammalian cells’ genetic material. This is said to cause congenital disabilities or even cancer theoretically.
Merck debunking concerns
On the other hand, a spokesperson from Merck has highlighted that the tests in animals indicate otherwise. Moreover, part of the spokesperson’s statement said that the totality of the data from these studies indicates that the new Covid-19 drug is not mutagenic or genotoxic in vivo mammalian systems.
Emory University School of Medicine’s Director of the Division of Biochemical Pharmacology and Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Raymond Schinazi has recently issued a warning over NHC, which is the compound that molnupiravir eventually turns into once taken. He went on to advise caution with the medication’s use until further data is made available. As of late, the trial being conducted by Merck has excluded pregnant women due to the potential harm it can bring to pregnant women and young individuals of reproductive age.
In line with this, an interim analysis was published last week, as this one stems from the MOVe-OUT global Phase 3 trial. If the data gathered is anything to go by, molnupiravir has reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 50 percent. This is in comparison to placebo for adult patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms of Covid-19.
The study also noted that 7.3 percent of the patients who got the experimental medication have either been hospitalized or subsequently died, compared to 14.1 percent of patients who were randomized to get a placebo on the 29th day of the said study.