FDA advisory committee votes in favor of COVID-19 pill molnupiravir

FDA’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee narrowly concluded that the benefits of Merck’s (NYSE:MRK) COVID-19 pill molnupiravir outweigh the risks.

A total of 13 members of the panel voted in favor of the drug candidate, while 10 voted against it. There were no abstentions.

FDA generally follows the advice of its advisory committees.

“This was clearly a very difficult decision,” said Dr. Michael D. Green, a member of the advisory committee and professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “I would use it in high-risk non-vaccinated individuals,” Green said, adding he would consider the drug for people with obesity and multiple other risk factors. “For pregnancy, I would only use it if there’s no alternative therapy available, and I don’t think I would use it in the first trimester.”

Committee members who voted ‘no’ voiced several concerns.

Dr. Timothy Burgess of the Uniformed Services University cited the unconvincing cli…

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Why Public Citizen is skeptical about the COVID-19 antiviral molnupiravir

Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s health research group, is concerned about Merck’s SARS-CoV-2 antiviral molnupiravir.

If it wins emergency use authorization (EUA), molnupiravir would be the first oral treatment for COVID-19. But Carome brought up several potential problems with molnupiravir during today’s public comment period of the FDA’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee meeting.

First, Carome argued that the drug appeared to have modest efficacy, offering a relative risk reduction against hospitalization or death of 30% through day 29 of the MK-4482-002 Phase 2/3 study.

Additionally, subgroup analyses of the MK-4482-002 study showed that the drug’s potential benefits appeared to be “substantially lower” in patients infected with the SARS CoV-2 Delta variant when the drug was provided at the proposed dosage of 800 mg every 12 hours for five days.

“Subgroup analyses also found n…

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