Merck selling COVID-19 antiviral pill to Singapore

Merck selling COVID-19 antiviral pill to Singapore
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American pharmaceutical company Merck announced on Wednesday it had reached an agreement to provide Singapore with its experimental oral COVID-19 treatment, Reuters reported.

Singapore joins countries like South Korea, Thailand and Australia in purchasing Merck's molnupiravir treatment, which has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Biden administration earlier this year announced plans to purchase 2 million courses of molnupiravir pending FDA authorization or approval.

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The treatment developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics works by introducing genetic errors into the virus and preventing it from being able to replicate itself. Since it does not function by targeting specific spike proteins, the medicine should theoretically be effective against COVID-19 variants.

Molnupiravir is administered as a five-day treatment. Merck is currently seeking emergency use authorization from the FDA.

"These in-vitro data suggest that molnupiravir is effective against SARS-CoV-2 variants, particularly when initiated early in the course of illness," a Merck spokesperson told The Hill last week. "We are hopeful that molnupiravir may play a key role in helping patients and reducing the burden on healthcare systems."

Merck announced last week that clinical trials found that its drug reduced the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization by 50 percent. According to the company, the trial showed molnupiravir to be consistently effective against all strains of COVID-19. All participants in the trial were unvaccinated.

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Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has called the findings a "phenomenal result" and a "profound game-changer."