Large-scale studies are about to be conducted for Merck Research Laboratories and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’s collaboration of an oral Covid-19 treatment by September. The MK-4482 is currently undergoing the second phase of clinical trials. Studies are aimed to quicken the recovery and reduce the severity and duration of symptoms of Covid-19.
“We will be embarking, probably in September, on very large pivotal studies,” said Dr. Roger Perlmutter, president of Merck Research Laboratories.
The oral drug is set to join Remdesivir in the frontlines if it is granted approval by regulators. Phase 2 trials are still ongoing and the company does not intend to disclose any available information yet until the trial duration is over. The company is already equipped to begin mass production.
According to Merck’s president, one advantage that the MK-4482 possesses over other drug candidates is that it is orally administered and therefore has a larger margin of safety compared to intravenously-taken drugs. It can be easily taken by patients as early as the first detectable onset of symptoms.
Similar to Remdesivir, MK-4482 aims to prevent any more ICU admissions by decreasing the chances of symptoms to worsen in patients. What we know so far is that it exhibited antiviral activity against SARS, MERS, and especially SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent for the global virus outbreak.
Merck will also purchase Themis Bioscience of Austria to join the race in the development of a vaccine. Trials for this vaccine will start in the later quarter of 2020. A collaboration with IAVI to produce another vaccine as well is also expected to start within the year. Merck is lagging behind the big competitors in its vaccine development. Moderna and Pfizer are already in the middle of their human trials, having started just before July ended.
The shares of the pharmaceutical research company increased by almost 3% and their revenue was higher than expected. The Covid-19 pandemic is partially responsible for it.