UNMC clinical trial testing oral COVID-19 drug that aims to lessen symptoms, lower hospitalizations

Are you unvaccinated and living with someone who has COVID-19? You might be eligible for this Merck pill trial.
I authorized, molnupiravir could be the first oral antiviral pill to treat COVID-19.
I authorized, molnupiravir could be the first oral antiviral pill to treat COVID-19.
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 11:03 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine said Tuesday they were recruiting adults who live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for a new clinical drug trial.

Officials say the trial will be conducted to evaluate if Molnupiravir, an oral antiviral made Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., can prevent COVID-19 and will assess the safety of the drug.

To date, the World Health Organization reports more than 5 million deaths around the world from COVID-19.

Doctors reported that Molnupiravir, an investigational medicine, demonstrated an “ability to prevent the growth of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” in preclinical studies.

The primary objective of the “MOVe-AHEAD” study, officials say, is to evaluate whether Molnupiravir, compared to placebo, is safe and effective at preventing hospitalization or death in adults residing with a person who has COVID-19.

Study participants will reportedly be randomly assigned to receive either the study drug or the placebo every 12 hours for five days with four follow-up visits, some of which may be conducted by phone or video call, according to the release. There is no cost for the trial drug or trial-related medical tests/exams.

Dr. Diana Florescu, a professor in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine and an infectious diseases specialist at Nebraska Medicine, is leading the UNMC clinical trial.

For research purposes, it is crucial that any participants are not vaccinated against the illness.

“If somebody is vaccinated they would have immune response to the vaccine and may bypass the results of the clinical trial,” said Dr. Florescu.

Dr. Florescu says that the drug will not boost immunity against COVID-19 but rather work as a tool to lessen symptoms.

“Each medication has a different role, none of the monoclonal antibodies or antiviral medication like Remdesivir or Molnupiravir would be a replacement for the vaccine,” she said.

The trial is the final step before the drug would go to the FDA for approval.

Experts say the greatest impact this pill could have would likely be on our hospital systems.

“If we are able to start the medication much earlier in the course of the disease, we might be able to prevent hospitalization and we might decrease the burden on the healthcare system,” said Dr. Florescu. “And we might be able to resume some of the elective surgeries and the staff would not be overwhelmed.”

Officials reveal that about 1,300 participants will be recruited for the international study, which will take approximately one month.

Doctors say you may qualify for the study if you:

  • Are at least 19 years old
  • Have not received a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Have never had COVID-19
  • Live with someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19

Interested in participating?

Those looking for more information about the study can reference it as reference IRB# 465-21-CB in an email inquiry to; or call 402-559-7685.

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