Stock Groups

Merck oral Covid pill approved by UK in world first


In this photo, taken in Poland in October 2021, the medicine pill can be seen in the background with Merck logo.

NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

LONDON — An antiviral pill found to be effective at treating Covid-19 has been approved by Britain’s medicines regulator Thursday, in a potentially game-changing way of treating the virus.

The UK’s medicines regulator announced that it has approved the first antiviral oral medication, known as Molnupiravir. It said the pill was safe and effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths among people who have mild or moderate Covid-19 and are more at risk for developing serious disease. The drug was approved by Britain as the first.

Ridgeback Biotherapeutics was the co-developer. Merck, the pill works by interfering with the virus’ replication. The pill prevents the virus from reproducing and reduces the severity of the illness, according to the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. You can administer it outside of hospitals.

According to the MHRA, the approval was made after a thorough review of the safety and effectiveness of the drug.

According to clinical trials, oral pills are most effective when administered in the early stages. Accordingly, it was recommended by the British regulator that you take the pill as soon after your Covid test is positive and no later than five days following the onset symptoms.

This antiviral medication is approved for people with mild-moderate Covid.


Sajid Javid, the U.K. Health Secretary said that it was an “historic moment for our country” as the U.K. became the first country to approve antivirals that could be used at home for COVID-19.

He said that the treatment would be “a gamechanger” for those most in need and immunosuppressed.

June Raine (CEO of MHRA) stated that Pills will significantly facilitate treatment of Covid. The virus has resulted in the hospitalization of many people all over the world and immense strain on health services.

Globally, more than 5 million have died from Covid-19.

She stated that she was satisfied with Lagevrio’s (molnupiravir), safety and effectiveness for people at high risk of severe Covid-19 and granted her approval.

“Lagevrio can be added to the arsenal against Covid-19. This antiviral is the first to be approved for use by mouth and not intravenously. She said that this is important because it allows the drug to be used outside of hospitals, even if Covid-19 has advanced to a more severe stage.

U.S. approval

Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck both stated that the internal data indicated that the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid was cut in half by molnupiravir. The following is what patients should do: four pills twice a day for five days

Rich Mendez from CNBC contributed reporting for this story.