The ninth update of WHO’s guideline on COVID-19 therapeutics includes a conditional recommendation on molnupiravir, a new antiviral medicine.
This is the first oral antiviral medicine which is included in the treatment guidelines for COVID-19, as this is a new medicine, there is little safety information; WHO recommends active monitoring for drug safety, along with other strategies to mitigate potential harms.
Because of these data gaps and concerns, Merck’s antiviral pill should be prescribed only for non-severe COVID-19 patients with the highest risk of hospitalization. The high-risk patients are typically who have not received a COVID-19 vaccination, older patients, patients with immunodeficiency and patients having chronic diseases.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children should not use the drug. Patients who take molnupiravir should have a contraceptive consideration.
How to be administrated:
Molnupiravir which is an oral tablet, should be prescribed as four tablets (total 800 mg) twice daily for five days; within 5 days of symptom onset. If it get started as early as possible after infection, it can help prevent hospitalization.
The new recommendation is based on new data from six randomized controlled trials involving 4796 patients, which is the largest dataset on this drug so far.
WHO has also invited companies to submit their products for prequalification, with a number of manufacturers of molnupiravir going through assessment now. WHO evaluates the efficacy, quality, and safety of medical products for United Nations and other large suppliers to low- and middle-income countries. More WHO quality-assured manufacturers mean that countries have a greater choice of products and more competitive prices.