Despite US Competition, Merck’s COVID-19 At-home Treatment Going Strong in Other Countries

merck covid-19 pill
Image via Merck.

While the experimental COVID-19 pill developed by Merck, the pharmaceutical giant with sizable operations in West Point, is being edged out by Pfizer’s antiviral pill nationally, it is still the top at-home treatment in other countries, such as Japan, writes Jared S. Hopkins for The Wall Street Journal.

Pfizer’s antiviral drug, Paxlovid, totaled more than 412,000 prescriptions through May 6. Meanwhile, molnupiravir, an antiviral from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics that is being marketed as Lagevrio, had already been prescribed 110,000 times by then.

Both pills received the green light from the FDA in December for use in high-risk individuals early in the course of their disease to keep people from being hospitalized.

Pfizer’s drug showed to be 88 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations in clinical trials, compared to 30 percent by the Merck drug. While supply and availability of Paxlovid were scarce at the start, Pfizer ramped up manufacturing and was able to cover the growing demand.

Still, due to the potentially harmful interactions of Paxlovid with other drugs, Lagevrio has some “advantages” over its competitor, said Jason Gallagher, an infectious-diseases clinical specialist at Temple University Hospital.

Read more about Merck’s COVID-19 At-home treatment going strong in The Wall Street Journal.

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