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This company wants the FDA to approve a new COVID pill

Merck has applied for emergency approval of its COVID-19 pill, which could treat the coronavirus infection

The new antiviral medication from pharmaceutical company Merck & Co.
This undated image provided by Merck & Co. shows their new COVID-19 antiviral medication. Merck has applied to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its antiviral pill that can treat COVID-19.
Merck & Co. via Associated Press

The pharmaceutical company Merck has applied to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its antiviral pill that can treat COVID-19.

On Monday, Merck applied for emergency use authorization for its new pill, which would treat those with a coronavirus infection in much the same way Tamiflu helps those who are infected with the flu, according to The New York Times.

  • The drug, titled molnupiravir, would be “a convenient, relatively inexpensive treatment” that “could reach many more high-risk people sick with Covid than the cumbersome antibody treatments currently being used,” per The New York Times.
  • The pill would likely be sent to states similar to how officials sent the COVID-19 vaccine to states. From there, states would distribute the pill how they see fit, including to doctors' offices or pharmacies, according to The New York Times.

Per CNN, Merck’s submission for authorization is based on a study that found the drug worked well among 700 patients who received either the pill or a placebo.

  • The data show that “molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50%; 7.3% of patients who received molnupiravir were either hospitalized or died through Day 29 following randomization, compared with 14.1% of placebo-treated patients,” the company said in a statement.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the FDA, said last week that the antiviral pill would help end the “pandemic phase” of the coronavirus outbreak because it would give people a pill to help them fight off their coronavirus infection on a daily basis.

Dr. Elizabeth Duke, a Fred Hutch research associate overseeing a trial of the pill, previously told CNN that such a pill could bring back a normal life.

  • “Think about that,” said Duke. “You could give it to everyone in a household, or everyone in a school. Then we’re talking about a return to, maybe, normal life.”