The use of Merck & Co Inc’s COVID-19 antiviral tablet for high-risk patients was endorsed by a World Health Organization (WHO) panel on Wednesday.
The medication, molnupiravir, is conditionally recommended for patients with non-severe sickness who are at high risk of hospitalisation, such as the immunocompromised, the unvaccinated, the elderly, and those with chronic disorders, according to the expert panel.
New data from six clinical studies including 4,796 individuals supported the suggestion.
Since its approval in the United States in December, molnupiravir has seen a drop in demand among COVID-19 patients due to its low effectiveness and potential safety concerns for some populations.
The WHO panel is also drafting recommendations for Paxlovid, Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 antiviral tablet.
In comparison to molnupiravir, Pfizer’s tablet was shown to be approximately 90% effective in avoiding COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities.
The WHO’s Guideline Development Group (GDG) guidelines are aimed at assisting clinicians in providing the best care for patients in fast-moving circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Molnupiravir should not be administered to young or healthy individuals, including children, pregnant or nursing women, or pregnant or breastfeeding women, according to the panel, because of potential concerns such as abnormalities in a developing baby, as established in animal studies.
The WHO recommendations, which were published in the British Medical Journal, said that there was no recommendation for molnupiravir usage in patients with severe or critical disease because no trial evidence was available.
In addition, the panel amended its recommendations for using Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc’s COVID-19 antibody cocktail. The medicine is now exclusively recommended for those who are not infected with Omicron, according to fresh preclinical research, as it is ineffective against the variation.
The panel approved using Eli Lilly’s baricitinib in conjunction with corticosteroids for patients with severe COVID-19 in January, and conditionally endorsed GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology’s antibody treatment for non-severe individuals at the highest risk of hospitalisation.