Merck develops anti-COVID-19 pill, asks for FDA authorization

Merck has developed a new pill-based treatment against COVID-19 and the drugmaker has requested use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

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The pill is an anti-viral called molnupiravir that can be taken by patients at home instead of the current treatments that have to be administered by an IV or injection, The Associated Press reported.

It would help quicken recovery and would ease the pressure on hospitals. It could also be used in countries that do not have a strong health care system.

The drug would be used for adult patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 and who are at risk of developing severe symptoms or might require hospitalization, the AP reported.

The FDA will take a look at the company’s data on both the safety and effectiveness of molnupiravir, which Merck said cut hospitalizations and deaths in half in patients that had early coronavirus symptoms.

The drug was given to more than 700 patients, none of which were vaccinated CNN reported.

“Through Day 29, no deaths were reported in patients who received molnupiravir, as compared to eight deaths in patients who received placebo,” the company said, according to CNN.

The side effects from the treatment have not been disclosed but were similar between the groups that got the pill and those who were given a placebo.

The data has neither been published or peer-reviewed, CNN reported.

Merck has asked for emergency use authorization, which could be granted in a few weeks’ time.

If approved, the federal government has already agreed to buy enough to treat 1.7 million people.

The cost of the treatment is $700 for each course, while traditional infusion-based treatment costs $2,000 for each dosage, the AP reported.

The company plans on producing 10 million courses of treatment by the end of the year, CNN reported.

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