Merck's COVID-19 pill active against Omicron in lab studies

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An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill, called molnupiravir and being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is seen in this undated handout photo released by Merck & Co Inc and obtained by Reuters May 17, 2021. Merck & Co Inc/Handout via REUTERS

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Jan 28 (Reuters) - Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said on Friday six lab studies showed their experimental oral COVID-19 drug molnupiravir was active against the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

The data evaluated the antiviral activity of molnupiravir and other COVID-19 antiviral agents against COVID-19 variants of concern. Molnupiravir is yet to be studied against Omicron in human studies, the companies said.

Molnupiravir and a rival oral pill from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) were authorized in the United States in December and are considered as important tools against Omicron.

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Pfizer said in December lab data suggested its drug Paxlovid retained its effectiveness against Omicron.

Merck said earlier this month its pill has a mechanism that can work against Omicron and any other variant.

Molnupiravir has been authorized for use in more than 10 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and Japan.

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Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Shounak Dasgupta

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