ECU begins clinical trials for Merck’s COVID-19 pill

Published 3:25 pm Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Researchers at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine are enrolling subjects in a new clinical trial for the antiviral pill being developed by Merck & Co. that has been touted as a potential game changer in the fight against COVID-19.

The experimental medication, Molnupiravir, has made worldwide headlines in recent days after it was shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by about half in subjects who already have COVID-19.

ECU researchers are now studying if the antiviral pill can also be effective in preventing transmission of COVID-19 to people who are not vaccinated and are not currently infected with COVID-19, but who live in the same household as someone who is infected.

“Essentially, we’re hoping to prevent people from catching COVID-19 if they are living with someone who is infected,” Dr. Paul Cook, chief of the Division of Infectious at the Brody School of Medicine. “So, if someone tests positive for COVID-19, they are not eligible for this study. But the other people in their household who are not sick and are not vaccinated are who we are trying to recruit, because what we know is that household members are at a very high risk of getting infected, particularly if they have not been vaccinated.”

Cook added that if the drug is proven to be safe and effective, it will be a “big deal” for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19 because it is easier to administer than the intravenous antibodies that physicians have been working with until this point. However, he said that vaccinations will still be the most effective way to combat COVID-19.

Participants must be:

·       At least 18 years old

·       Unvaccinated

·       Not currently infected with COVID-19

·       Living in the same household as someone infected with COVID-19

The study will last for approximately 28 days and will require patients to take pills twice a day for five days, as well as take part in follow-up testing.

People interested in taking part in the study should contact either Jamie Wigent, RN (252-744-1913 | wigentj17@ecu.edu) or Allison Geigel, RN (252-744-3962 or geigela20@ecu.edu).