North African country agrees to use experimental treatment pill to mitigate coronavirus crisis

Marruecos autoriza el Molnupiravir para la COVID-19

Moroccan health authorities gave their authorization regarding the emergency use of the drug Molnupiravir, currently developed by Merck & Co Inc. together with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, for patients diagnosed with COVID-19, Reuters news agency reported, citing the head of drugs at the country's Ministry of Health, Bushra Maddah.

"The anti-COVID-19 drug from U.S. laboratory Merck will be available in Morocco in the coming days," COVID-19 Scientific and Technical Committee member Said Moutawakil was quoted as saying. He added that "the Directorate of Medicines and Pharmacy (DMP) has given the marketing authorization for Molnupiravir, after several months of negotiations with the U.S. laboratory." 

Pill for the treatment of COVID-19, called molnupiravir and being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP.

"Once available, this drug will be included in the treatment protocol," he clarified. In addition, "Morocco has started negotiations to buy Pfizer pills, but also drugs manufactured by Chinese laboratories that are under investigation." 

"The vaccine is an excellent solution to limit the spread of the virus, but it is not enough, on its own, to deal with the virus," he added. The Maghreb country reported 6,428 cases and 13 deaths caused by the coronavirus last Friday, upping overall figures to 990,057 cases and 14,896 total deaths.  

Logo of the German pharmaceutical company Merck.

Molnupiravir is initially intended to mitigate the effects of Hepatitis C, although it has shown some benefit against several coronaviruses. The pill was authorized on Thursday, December 23 for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

The drug is not authorized for use in patients under 18 years of age because Molnupiravir can affect bone growth in young people. It is also not authorized for prevention before or after exposure to COVID-19, nor for the initiation of treatment in patients already hospitalized due to the virus, since no benefit from treatment has been detected.   

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