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.
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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.”