Intended for healthcare professionals


Covid-19: Antiviral purchased by UK government does not lower risk of hospital admission, trial shows

BMJ 2022; 379 doi: (Published 11 October 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;379:o2441
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. Kent

Molnupiravir, a covid-19 antiviral drug bought by the UK government in the amount of 2.23 million doses, is no better than placebo at lowering the risks of death and hospital admission, a pivotal UK trial has found.

Preliminary results released from the Panoramic trial of 25 783 people who were randomly assigned to open label treatment with molnupiravir plus usual care or to usual care alone found no significant difference between the two groups for the primary endpoint of death or hospital admission.1 The study has been published as a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed.

The UK was the first country to authorise Merck Sharp and Dohme’s molnupiravir (Lagevrio) for the treatment of mild to moderate covid-19 in adults with at least one risk factor for severe illness, in November 2021.2 The European Medicines Agency has still not approved the drug.

When Sajid Javid, then health secretary, announced the deal to purchase molnupiravir he called it a “gamechanger for the most vulnerable and the immunosuppressed.”34 The government has been criticised for overhyping the antiviral: the editors of the Drug …

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