Take at Home COVID-19 Pill Cleared for Use in U.K.

Merck COVID-19 pill

A COVID-19 pill that people can take at home to keep them out of the hospital has been cleared for use in the U.K., the first country to give the long-awaited drug the green light.

Developed by the US drug companies Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, molnupiravir is the first oral antiviral medication for COVID which can be taken as a pill rather than injected or given intravenously.

It targets an enzyme that the virus uses to make copies of itself, introducing errors into its genetic code. That should prevent it from multiplying, so keeping virus levels low in the body and reducing the severity of the disease.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recommend that molnupiravir be used as soon as possible following a positive COVID-19 test and within five days of the onset of symptoms.

This is the first oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19 to get approved, with the go ahead coming before potential U.S. regulatory clearance, with U.S. advisers planning to meet this month to vote on whether molnupiravir should be authorised.

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