Dr Gottlieb on Merck’s oral COVID-19 drug: ‘it’s a profound game changer’

By: Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh is an active follower of world affairs, technology, an avid reader, and loves to play table tennis in… read more.
on Oct 1, 2021
  • Merck says its oral COVID-19 pill reduces the risk of hospitalisation and death by 50%.
  • Merck's interim results were phenomenal, Dr Gottlieb said on CNBC's "Squawk Box".
  • Shares of the pharmaceutical company are up about 7.0% on Friday morning.

Merck & Co Inc (NYSE: MRK) reported interim results for the clinical trial of its experimental COVID-19 pill on Friday that showed Molnupiravir reduces hospitalisation and deaths by about 50% in patients at risk of severe disease.

Merck now plans on seeking regulatory approval for its oral drug that it developed in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, in the U.S. and elsewhere “as soon as possible”.

Dr Scott Gottlieb’s remarks on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”

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On CNBC’s “Squawk Box”, former FDA commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb said the interim results were “phenomenal” as he expressed confidence in the team behind Merck’s oral COVID-19 drug.

This is a profound game changer to have an oral pill that had this magnitude of effect in patients who are at high risk, who are already symptomatic.

On top of that, he added, the safety profile of the oral pill also looked “pretty clean” as it did not present side effects in human trials.

You’re going to be taking it for five days. Drugs with such short-term administration usually have a good safety profile; the margin for safety issues is much broader.

U.S. government bought 1.7 million courses of the oral pill

According to Dr Gottlieb, Molnupiravir has a one-up over Regeneron’s antibody cocktail as it doesn’t require the patient to visit a hospital and can be self-administered easily at home.

The U.S. government has signed a deal to buy 1.7 million courses of Merck’s oral COVID-19 drug, which, as per Dr Gottlieb, will NOT be available for patients who have “just been exposed” to make sure that enough is available for those who “really need it”.

Shares of Merck & Co opened about 7% up on Friday morning.

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