COVID-19 Treatments Opening to High-risk Patients in UK via NHS

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by Marisa Wexler MS |

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People in the U.K. at highest risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 — including those with cystic fibrosis (CF) — starting on Dec. 16 will have access to medications that can lessen the risk of severe disease through the country’s National Health Service (NHS).

Two medications will be available: molnupiravir (sold under the brand name Lagevrio, among others), an oral small molecule developed by Merck that is designed to reduce the ability of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) to multiply in the body; and Ronapreve (casirivimab/imdevimab), an antibody therapy jointly developed by Roche and Regeneron that can block the virus from infecting cells.

The decision to open these medications to at-risk patients through the NHS was applauded by the CF Trust.

“These cutting-edge treatments will help protect the most vulnerable over the winter months, which is positive news for the CF community,” the CF Trust stated in a press release.

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CF Patients With COVID-19 at Higher Risk of Poor Outcomes

In clinical trials, molnupiravir was shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by 30% for adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 who were at risk of a severe infection. Ronapreve lowered the risk of hospitalization or death by 70% in its trials.

Both medications will be available to at-risk patients who test positive for COVID-19 via a PCR test. According to the therapies’ labels, those ages 18 or older are eligible to molnupiravir treatment, while Ronapreve can be taken by patients 12 years and older.

Individuals with symptoms are encouraged to take a PCR test at home and register their results with the NHS. A representative at that office which will then contact the person within 24 hours to give information and advise which treatment, if any, is suitable. Patients can also contact their primary healthcare providers to discuss whether they are in the highest risk group that qualifies for these medicines.

The University of Oxford recently launched a clinical trial called PANORAMIC, which is testing molnupiravir and aims to recruit 10,000 people in the U.K. who are at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, including those with CF.

The study is open to adults, 18 and older, with pre-existing conditions and a positive PCR test for COVID-19 with ongoing symptoms that started in the last five days, regardless of vaccination status. Those without pre-existing conditions need to be age 50 or older. Additional information and registration is available on the study’s website, and CF is among the specific conditions listed.

A first set of results from the PANORAMIC trial is expected in early 2022.


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