On 4 November the UK’s medicines regulator, MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) – the equivalent of America’s US Food and Drug Administration) - approved the usage of the first pill to treat symptomatic Covid-19. It is the first country in the world to do so.
The drug, called molnupiravir, has been called a “gamechanger” by UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid, because it has been shown to greatly reduce the need for hospitalisation in Covid patients. It would be of most benefit to the most vulnerable and those who are immunosuppressed, Mr Javid said.
The drug is administered in pill form twice a day to vulnerable patients recently diagnosed with the disease.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid issued a statement and said: “Today is a historic day for our country, as the UK is now the first country in the world to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home for Covid.”
The UK Health Secretary said they were working at pace across the government and with the NHS to set out plans to deploy molnupiravir to patients through a national study as soon as possible.
Molnupiravir, developed by the US drug companies Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is unique because it is the first type of Covid-19 medication that can be taken in a pill form and not having to be injected or taken intravenously, which means people are able to treat themselves in the comfort of their homes, rather than stay in hospital.
The UK has scheduled 480,000 courses and expects initial deliveries in just a couple of weeks’ time. The drug works by targeting enzymes in the virus that the virus uses to replicate itself. Preventing the virus from multiplying in the body means a less severe bout of the disease.
The MHRA said the drug should be used for people who have mild to moderate Covid and at least one risk factor for developing severe illness such as obesity, old age, diabetes or heart disease. In trials it was found to be most effective five days after symptoms develop.
MHRA Chief Executive, June Raine, said that it was “another therapeutic to add to our armoury against Covid-19’ and the organisation recommended the drug’s immediate use to combat Covid-19.
She has also confirmed that the MHRA undertook rigorous and detailed testing for any treatments were undertaken to the very highest standards.
Cayman’s Chief Medical Officer said that Cayman was on the list to receive the drug.
“The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office is considering its Overseas Territories in its advance purchase just like it did an advanced purchase for the vaccines. It’s considering us in the advanced purchase for this category of drug, which will be enormously helpful in keeping people out of the hospitals, so that is an exciting thing that we should hear more about by, I should think, Christmas,” Dr Lee confirmed.