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A Merck pill used to combat Covid-19 failed to demonstrate it can lower the risk of hospitalization compared with a placebo among adults at a higher risk from the disease, according to the results of a large study conducted in the U.K.

The preliminary results of the randomized trial, which involved more than 25,000 participants, showed that taking molnupiravir did speed time to recovery by about six days, which means that patients did get some relief. Otherwise, though, the study failed to reach an outcome that had been used late last year by regulators — such as those in the U.S. and U.K. — to authorize the medicine to thwart the pandemic.


The findings also contradict the results of a much smaller study conducted by Merck and its partner, Ridgeback Therapeutics, which found a lower risk of hospitalization or death in high-risk patients by roughly 30%, after initially showing a 50% lower risk. Unlike the latest trial, which is called Panoramic, the Merck trial called Move-Out excluded patients who had been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

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