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Merck’s COVID-19 Pill Shows Positive Results

Merck Seeks FDA Approval for COVID-19 Pill

Merck (MRK) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ COVID-19 medicine, molnupiravir, proved to be successful in preventing COVID-19 patients from becoming critically ill and dying. In a pivotal late-stage trial for the pill, the drug companies found that the medicine cut the risk of hospitalization and death in half for people suffering from mild to moderate COVID-19.

The drug proved to be so effective that Merck and Ridgeback stopped enrolling more subjects in their trial. The drug companies are now in talks with the US Food and Drug Administration to receive emergency use authorization. That could come by the end of the year, providing doctors with a much-needed COVID-19 treatment which can be administered at home.

First At-Home Oral Treatment for COVID-19

If the FDA signs off on Merck and Ridgeback’s COVID-19 treatment, it would be the first oral medicine to treat the disease. It can be prescribed when patients first start showing symptoms to slow the spread of the virus and prevent symptoms from worsening. This could be a game-changer in dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks and has the potential to makemake COVID-19 manageable at home, similar to the flu. The drug also proved effective against variants of COVID-19 including Delta.

Merck plans to produce 10 million doses of the medicine by the end of 2021 and to increase production in 2022. The US already inked a $1.2 billion deal with Merck to purchase 1.7 million doses if the drug gets the green light from the FDA.

Merck Finally at the Table

The results of Merck’s study positions the drug company to play a bigger part in the pandemic after several setbacks. Two of the COVID-19 vaccines Merck developed failed to be effective. The company also had to stop development on an experimental COVID-19 drug.

As it stands, options to treat COVID-19 remain limited. Gilead Sciences’ (GILD) remdesivir, which has full FDA approval, can only be used in hospital settings. Meanwhile, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) treatments for patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 require an intravenous infusion. Without a doubt vaccines remain the best way to fight the pandemic. But Merck’s new drug, if approved, will be able to help those who do get sick.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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