Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics have shared data from six preclinical studies showing that the COVID-19 pill molnupiravir was active against the omicron variant in vitro.
The two companies continue to seek regulatory authorization for the drug internationally, which is currently authorized in more than 10 countries, including the U.S., the UK, Taiwan, Japan, India and Australia.
“Based on its mechanism of action, along with these new findings demonstrating in vitro activity across multiple variants, including omicron, we anticipate that molnupiravir will continue to be active against variants of concern and an important tool in the fight against COVID-19,” said Wendy Holman, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics CEO, in a statement. “We are grateful for the efforts of the investigators and look forward to continuing our work to help address the pandemic.”
The recent lab studies were conducted by independent researchers using cell-based assays in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and the U.S.
While interest in molnupiravir has been high amidst the omicron-driven wave of infections, some health authorities have expressed concerns over the use of the drug.
In early January, an Indian Council of Medical Research official noted that India was reluctant to recommend molnupiravir given concerns over potential safety risks, including congenital disorders, possibly tied to the drug. “As of now, the current recommendation stands that it is not part of the national task force treatment,” Balram Bhargava, the director-general of the council, according to Bloomberg.
Filed Under: Infectious Disease