Not only did the placebo outperform the pill in the trial's second half, but it works by driving viral mutations - a red flag for risks of disease, birth defects and the creation of a more virulent variant.
Merck's New COVID Pill Is a Disaster
An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted to grant emergency authorization to Merck’s oral COVID-19 pill molnupiravir (Lagevrio) — by a narrow 13-to-10 margin
Among those who received the drug, the rate of all-cause hospitalization or death was 6.8%, compared to 9.7% in the placebo group — a relative risk reduction of just 30%
The full data showed more hospital admissions among patients taking molnupiravir (6.2%) than among those taking a placebo (4.7%)
Molnupiravir works by triggering mutations that ultimately kill the virus; a risk of cancer and birth defects is possible, and the drug shouldn’t be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women or children
By driving mutations but not killing off all of the virus — such as if people don’t take the full course of the drug — new and deadlier variants could be unleashed across the globe
The U.S. government is already on the hook for about 3.1 million courses of molnupiravir, which it bought for approximately $2.2 billion