Japan Panel May Meet Dec. 24 on Merck's Oral COVID-19 Drug

Politics Lifestyle

Tokyo, Dec. 16 (Jiji Press)--Japan's health ministry will hold a panel meeting as early as Dec. 24 to decide whether to approve molnupiravir, an oral COVID-19 drug developed jointly by U.S. firms Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, according to informed sources.

If approved, molnupiravir will be the first orally administered novel coronavirus drug to be put into practical use in Japan. The easy-to-take drug is expected to facilitate the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Molnupiravir is an oral antiviral drug designed to block the functioning of an enzyme that is needed for the proliferation of the virus. In clinical trials, the drug reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by about 30 pct for mildly and moderately ill COVID-19 patients.

The Japanese government aims to put an oral COVID-19 drug into practical use by year-end.

The use of molnupiravir was approved in Britain last month for the first time in the world.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press