Investing.com – Merck stock (NYSE:MRK) climbed more than 7% in Friday’s premarket trading after the company said trials of a drug it is developing against Covid showed reduced risks of hospitalization and deaths.
If approved, molnupiravir, the drug, could be the world’s first oral antiviral medicine for Covid, the company said in a note. Merck plans to seek emergency use authorization in the U.S. as soon as possible.
The company said the drug demonstrated consistent efficacy across viral variants Gamma, Mu and Delta, the most infectious of the lot.
The company is jointly developing the drug with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
The drug was administered to 775 patients in a phase-3 trial and at the time of the decision to stop the recruitment based on the interim efficacy results, the company said the trial was approaching full recruitment of the phase 3 sample size of 1,550 patients.
Eligibility criteria required that all patients had laboratory-confirmed mild-to-moderate COVID-19, with symptom onset within 5 days of study randomization. All patients were required to have at least one risk factor associated with poor disease outcome at study entry
Merck expects to produce 10 million courses of treatment by the end of 2021, with more doses expected to be produced in 2022. It will supply approximately 1.7 million courses to the U.S. government under an existing agreement, assuming all the approvals are in place.