EU agency issues advice on COVID drug

The European Union's drug regulator has issued advice on an oral COVID-19 treatment developed by two US companies.

The European Medicines Agency began screening molnupiravir last month for market authorization.

On Friday, it said a review of data shows the drug reduced the risk of hospitalization and death when taken within five days of the start of symptoms.

The agency says it has issued the advice to support authorities that may approve emergency use of the drug in adults, amid rising infection rates and deaths in the EU.

Molnupiravir was developed by US pharmaceutical firm Merck and US biotech company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. It is designed to prevent the coronavirus from multiplying inside the human body.

British regulators authorized its use earlier this month.