U.K. Set to Deploy Merck’s Covid Pill in 10,000-Person Study
The U.K., the first country in the world to approve Merck & Co.’s Covid pill, is expected to start providing the therapy to its population through a national study in about 10,000 people.
Run by the University of Oxford, the study is set to begin recruiting participants early next month, giving the country key data on how well the drug, molnupiravir, works in vaccinated people.
The results will allow the National Health Service to better plan the rollout of antiviral treatments to the people who need them most, the health department said in an emailed statement. The drug provides the U.K. with another tool to fight Covid as the country advances with an aggressive campaign to administer booster shots and Europe combats another wave of infections.
The U.K. about a year ago became the first western country to approve a Covid vaccine, racing ahead of many nations.
Merck’s drug earlier this month was authorized for use in the U.K. in people with mild to moderate Covid and with at least one risk factor for developing severe illness. The U.K. also unveiled deals to secure the Merck and Pfizer antivirals.
“Molnupiravir is a ground-breaking treatment that will help the most vulnerable and we are working at pace across the government and with the NHS to set out plans to deploy it to patients through a national study as soon as possible,” the health department wrote.
The study, called Panoramic, is expected to be the initial route for giving people access to antivirals in the U.K. Patients in the study will be asked to provide updates on their health to show how the treatments are working.
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