Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP Images)

WHO OKs mol­nupi­ravir as treat­ment for Covid-19, af­ter new da­ta from In­dia

The WHO up­dat­ed its guide­lines on Wednes­day to rec­om­mend mol­nupi­ravir, Mer­ck’s an­tivi­ral pill, for treat­ing pa­tients new­ly di­ag­nosed with Covid-19.

It’s the first Covid-19 pill rec­om­mend­ed by the WHO, com­ing be­fore any rec­om­men­da­tion around Pfiz­er’s Paxlovid, de­spite con­tin­ued ques­tions about the pre­cise mag­ni­tude of ben­e­fit and the risks as­so­ci­at­ed with the Mer­ck drug.

The new de­ci­sion, how­ev­er, comes af­ter a tri­al in In­dia on a gener­ic ver­sion of mol­nupi­ravir found the pill re­duced the risk of hos­pi­tal­iza­tion from Covid-19 by 65%. Al­though not con­clu­sive, it was an­oth­er da­ta point in the on­go­ing de­bate over mol­nupi­ravir’s ef­fi­ca­cy. Mer­ck’s ini­tial da­ta showed the pill cut the risk of hos­pi­tal­iza­tion among high-risk Covid-19 pa­tients in half, but lat­er analy­ses of the same tri­al cut that num­ber to just 30% — a drop the com­pa­ny strug­gled to ex­plain to the FDA.

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