India concerned by Merck Covid pill side effects — Analysis

Delhi has restricted the use of the company’s coronavirus cure amid concerns about its safety

India has announced it won’t be adding Merck’s Covid-19 pill to its national treatment protocol due to concerns about its safety. According to India’s medical research board, it can lead to fetal abnormalities and cell mutations.

Tuesday’s statement by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a government-run body, stated that it became aware of Wednesday’s incident. “major safety concerns.”  

“It can cause teratogenicity and mutagenicity, and it also can cause cartilage damage and be damaging to muscles,”Balram Bhargava, Director General of ICMR was quoted. “More importantly, contraception will have to be used for three months if this drug is given, because the child born could be problematic, with teratogenic influences.”

Teratogens can be agents that cause the death of a foetus. Mutagenic drugs, on the other hand, alter the DNA of the subject.  

Merck says a Merck drug study proves it doesn’t cause cancer or birth defects. The study actually involved higher doses of the drug and longer administration periods than usual for human use.

“The WHO has not included it, the UK has not included it as of now. As of now, the current recommendation stands that it is not part of the national taskforce treatment,” Bhargava said. 

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Indian regulators had approved the drug in December. The product was expected to be available for private sale by next week.

Neither Merck nor Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, an Indian drugmaker that had planned to launch a generic version of the pill, has so far responded to media requests for comment.

This drug is approved to be used in other countries, such as the UK, Japan and Denmark. 

Nonetheless, the trial data was disappointing, with many countries opting to use Pfizer’s more effective Covid-19 pill instead. 

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