Disappointment on the front lines of the fight against Covid-19. The High Authority of Health (HAS) retoked, Friday, December 10 at the end of the day, an antiviral treatment against the mild forms of the disease, molnupiravir. This treatment, which aims to limit or even eliminate the infection by blocking the replication of the virus, “Does not meet the necessary criteria to obtain an early access authorization”, estimates the HAS in a press release.
This experimental drug, administered orally, is developed in France by MSD France, a subsidiary of the American laboratory Merck, under the trade name “Lagevrio”. The French authorities, however, relied on this treatment, among others. The Minister of Health Olivier Véran had praised it on several occasions, as well as Emmanuel Macron, who had alluded to it in his speech on November 9. France had even pre-ordered, at the end of October, 50,000 doses of this treatment, subject to approval by national health authorities.
The approval, therefore, did not come. In its press release, HAS emphasizes in particular that “The efficacy results put forward by the laboratory are less good than those of the available treatments”. First announced at 50% effectiveness against severe forms during the preliminary phase of clinical trials, the results had finally fallen to 30%, the manufacturer had recognized a few days ago.
Molnupiravir, less effective than expected against Covid
A treatment which would induce “a loss of opportunity for the patients”
HAS also notes this “Significant discrepancy” between the two periods of the study, further noting that the second period, the most unfavorable for molnupiravir, has characteristics “Closer to the current epidemiology in France, mainly represented by the Delta variant”. “In addition, the impact of treatment on viral load negativation (reducing the presence of the virus until it becomes undetectable) has not been demonstrated”, adds the health authority.
HAS even considers that “Access to Lagevrio in town would risk losing the chance for patients, who would not be treated by a more effective treatment, Ronapreve”. The latter, the trade name for a treatment combining two monoclonal antibodies, casirivimab and imdevimab, was authorized in August by the HAS. Developed by the Roche laboratory, it aims to prevent infections, or to limit the severe forms. The HAS concludes its opinion by encouraging “Easier access to Ronapreve for curative purposes throughout the territory during this 5e wave linked to the delta variant “.