Molnupiravir approved in China against COVID-19

Ding Yining
The drug has been approved in China, providing additional protection against COVID-19. Taken orally, the antiviral medication will first be given to high-risk groups.
Ding Yining

Emergency approval has been granted to another oral antiviral medicine in China for COVID with an extra layer of protection expected to be offered to high-risk groups.

MSD on Friday announced that the oral antiviral COVID-19 medicine LAGEVRIO (molnupiravir capsule) has received emergency conditional approval on the Chinese mainland by the National Medical Product Agency for the treatment of mild to moderate adult patients, who are at risk for progressing to severe COVID-19.

Professor Sheng Jifang, chief of Infectious Diseases Department at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine, said that the oral antiviral medicine molnupiravir will provide an extra treatment option for Chinese doctors and patients.

Early use of effective antiviral drugs will help alleviate symptoms, quickly clear the virus, and reduce the risk of hospitalization or death.

"The currently predominant variant Omicron has a strong ability to escape immunity with a relatively low risk of severe disease and death. Factors such as incomplete immunization or absence of booster immunization, advanced age and comorbidities with chronic diseases are still important risk factors for progression to severe disease and death after infection with Omicron," she explained.

"Molnupiravir is an oral small-molecule antiviral medicine against COVID-19 with broad-spectrum antiviral activity and a wide coverage of patients, especially for the elderly and those with underlying diseases. It also features short course of treatment and quick viral clearance in the body," according to Li Zhengqing, president of MSD China R&D center and senior vice president of MSD.

"We believe that molnupiravir will serve as another important tool in China's fight against COVID-19 in the future, alleviating the damages caused by COVID-19 to patients, medical institutions and the public health system."

Molnupiravir is the world's first approved oral antiviral medicine against COVID-19 and has since been authorized for use in more than 40 markets, including the United States, the European Union, Australia, Japan, South Korea, China's Hong Kong and Taiwan.

On the Chinese mainland, the distribution right and exclusive import right were granted to Sinopharm earlier this year.

"With the approval of molnupiravir in China, we will work closely with our partner Sinopharm and devote our respective strengths to accelerate the launch and ensure supply to help patients in need," added Anna Van Acker, president of MSD in China and senior vice president of MSD.

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