Molnupiravir not included in COVID-19 treatment guidelines as its harms outweigh benefits: ICMR – ET HealthWorld

India’s top health research body today said that the harms of the antiviral drug Molnupiravir, outweighs its benefits. The world’s first anti-Covid oral pill is developed by Merck.

Noting its rampant and irrational use of the pill, Balram Bhargava, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that efforts should be made to restrict its use.

“We had extensive discussions among national experts and reviewed whatever data was available from three trials – one on 1433 patients in the US; one which was prematurely terminated for business reasons and another that is ongoing. The conclusion is that Molnupiravir has certain risks that warrant caution in its use. Experts present at the meeting opined that there is a rampant and irrational use of the pill. They said efforts should be made to restrict its use as known and unknown harms far outweigh its claimed benefit,” Bhargava said on Wednesday.

He said that the national task force experts have unanimously agreed that it doesn’t not warrant inclusion in the Covid-19 treatment guidelines.

The emerging evidence will be constantly reviewed, he said.

Bharagva said the current window of application appeared extremely narrow for Molnupiravir with relevance only to the elderly and the unvaccinated with other comorbidities except diabetes.

“There was no evidence of benefit in diabetes, those previously infected with Covid 19 or those who were vaccinated,” he said.

VK Paul, member, Niti Aayog said that the task force is continuously reviewing the data. “The drug is approved in the UK, Denmark but not yet part of their guidelines. Even in the US where the medicine has been approved for use its administration is conditional. The WHO has not included it either,” he said.

According to the Union health ministry, Molnupiravir is an antiviral drug that inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication by viral mutagenesis. The anti-Covid pill was approved by the Drug Regulator General of India on December 28 for restricted use in emergencies.

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