Merck’s Japan unit files for approval of oral coronavirus treatment

Courtesy of MSD K.K.
Merck & Co.’s new antiviral medication molnupiravir

MSD K.K., a subsidiary of U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., filed an application for approval of the oral coronavirus treatment molnupiravir to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on Friday.

If approved, it will be the first drug to be used in Japan for the treatment of the novel coronavirus.

The government wants the drug to be available for practical use by the end of this year.

It is said that the risk of serious illness is reduced if people with mild symptoms take the antiviral drug early in the course of the disease. In clinical trials, the drug was found to be effective in reducing the risk of serious illness by 30%, according to Merck.

The treatment has already been approved in Britain.

Japan has agreed to receive a supply of 1.6 million doses, on the assumption that the regulatory authority will swiftly approve the drug.