The pharmaceutical company Merck announced on October 1 that its new oral antiviral medication reduced by about 50 percent the risk of hospitalization and death in people with mild or moderate cases of COVID-19, and that it would seek emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its use in the US.
The new drug’s generic name: molnupiravir.
Multisyllabic pharmaceutical names are of course nothing new. What’s unusual is molnupiravir’s origin, and the fact that Merck has publicly discussed the naming story.
Dean Li, Merck’s head of research and development, told the medical publication Stat News:
“Our prediction from our in vitro studies and now with this data is that molnupiravir is named after the right — you know, it’s named after Thor’s hammer [Mjollnir], this is a hammer against SARS-CoV-2 regardless of the variant.”
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