FDA panel endorses first antiviral treatment for COVID-19

Today, an expert panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) endorsed the use of the Merck antiviral drug molnupiravir for treatment of symptomatic COVID-19 in test-confirmed patients with high risk conditions. The FDA has not yet authorized the treatment.

In clinical trials, molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization by 30% when given to high-risk, unvaccinated patients infected with COVID-19. The treatment should be given within five days of the emergence of symptoms.

Those at high risk include people who are older and those who have medical conditions, such as diabetes, obesity or heart disease.

If approved, supply of molnupiravir is expected to be limited at first. Treatment is expected to be available to eligible Oregonians in the upcoming weeks.

The Oregon Health Authority’s distribution plan is centered on equity to ensure those disproportionately affected by the pandemic have access to appropriate treatment.

While treatments are beginning to emerge, vaccination continues to be the most effective way to guard against severe disease caused by COVID-19.