About Molnupiravir

three dimensional rendering of the molnupiravir molecular structure

Molnupiravir was invented at Emory University. Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE) LLC, which was formed by Emory to develop early-stage drug candidates for viral diseases of global concern, advanced molnupiravir through an Investigational New Drug submission. On Dec. 23, 2021, molnupiravir received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of COVID-19.


For several years, Emory scientists had been working on EIDD-2801, a drug candidate with potential as a treatment for several highly infectious and worrisome viral diseases, including influenza and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis virus, some of which are biodefense threats. When the pandemic began, the team quickly turned its attention to developing EIDD-2801 as a treatment for COVID-19. DRIVE licensed EIDD-2801, now known as molnupiravir, to Ridgeback Biotherapeutics in 2020, which conducted the first human clinical trials and then partnered with Merck.

How does molnupiravir work?

Molnupiravir disrupts the process by which SARS-CoV-2 duplicates itself in host cells by inserting errors into the virus’s genetic code.

What does its name mean?

The name molnupiravir refers to the hammer—Mjölnir—of the Norse god and Marvel superhero Thor. The suffix “vir” is frequently used in naming antiviral drugs.


  1. 2013
    Microscopic image of tissue

    Equine Encephalitis

    Emory begins screening ribonucleoside analogs against equine encephalitis viruses (EEVs). Spread by mosquitoes, EEVs can be fatal and were weaponized during the Cold War.

  2. 2016

    Emory receives Defense Threat Reduction Agency contract to develop countermeasures against EEVs.

  3. 2019

    Emory receives NIH award to develop antivirals against influenza.

  4. March 2020
    Illustration of the COVID-19 virus


    DRIVE licenses EIDD-2801 to Ridgeback Biotherapeutics as a potential COVID-19 therapy.

  5. April 2020

    The FDA grants DRIVE an Investigational New Drug application. Ridgeback begins Phase 1 clinical trials.

  6. May 2020

    Ridgeback partners with Merck.

  7. September 2020

    Merck and Ridgeback begin pivotal Phase 2/3 clinical trial.

  8. October 2021

    Merck submits an Emergency Use Authorization application to the FDA.

  9. November 2021

    Britain becomes the first country to approve molnupiravir for COVID-19.

  10. December 2021

    Molnupiravir receives Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for the treatment of COVID-19.

Molnupiravir capsules

Drug Discovery and Molnupiravir News