Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced they have supplied about 3.1 million courses of their antiviral drug against COVID-19, molnupiravir, to the U.S. government. In other news, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that vaccination against COVID-19 not only protects pregnant women against the disease but their babies as well.

Merck & Co. expects the company’s 2022 sales to increase as much as 18 percent over 2021, mostly on sales of the new COVID-19 pill molnupiravir.

Merck & Co.’s new antiviral pill – once touted as a potential game changer for treating COVID-19 – is the last choice among four available options for at-risk patients given its relatively low efficacy and potential safety issues, U.S. doctors, healthcare systems and pharmacies told Reuters.

Merck & Co. Inc. and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said on Jan. 28 six lab studies showed their experimental oral COVID-19 drug molnupiravir was active against the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and White House chief medical advisor, said they expect the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children under the age of 5 years in the next month.

Nearly 30 generic drugmakers in Asia, Africa and the Middle East will make cheap versions of Merck & Co’s COVID-19 pill, under a landmark U.N.-backed deal to give poorer nations wider access to a drug seen as a weapon in fighting the pandemic.

India approved Merck’s Covid-19 pill and two more vaccines for emergency use as the world’s second most populous country braces for a possible spike in coronavirus cases due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration greenlit Merck’s and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ molnupiravir under Emergency Use Authorization for the treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 infections in adults who are at high risk of progression to severe disease.

Molnupiravir – the main component in Merck and Ridgeback Therapeutics’ Covid-19 oral pill – might not be safe for use in pregnant women, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

Merck

The latest data from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ MOVe-OUT trial on the use of molnupiravir to treat COVID-19 in adults has shown a lower efficacy than previously reported.