(Reuters) - Merck & Co Inc 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 were authorized in the United States in December and are considered as important tools against Omicron.
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.
(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Shounak Dasgupta)