Oct 14 (Reuters) - A panel of outside advisers to the U.S.
health regulator will meet late next month to discuss whether to
authorize Merck & Co's experimental COVID-19 antiviral
drug, the agency said on Thursday.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) panel will
meet on Nov. 30 to discuss safety and effectiveness of the drug,
molnupiravir, for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in
adults who have tested positive and are at high risk for
progression to severe illness. (https://refini.tv/3p1PETq)
The FDA typically follows the advice of its experts but is
not bound to do so.
Merck earlier this week said it filed for U.S. emergency use
authorization for molnupiravir, which it is developing with
partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The drug would become the
first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19, if cleared by the
Pfizer Inc and Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG
are also racing to develop an easy-to-administer
antiviral pill for the disease.
Merck's treatment cut the rate of hospitalization and death
by 50% in a trial of mild-to-moderately ill patients who had at
least one risk factor for the disease, according to data
released earlier this month.
The company has a contract with the U.S. government to
supply 1.7 million courses at a price of $700 per course. The
drugmaker also recently signed deals with Malaysia and Singapore
for supply of the drug.
Bloomberg News first reported on a U.S. FDA advisory
committee review of the drug.
(Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; Editing by Maju Samuel and