Merck applies for US emergency authorization of COVID-19 pill

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Merck & Co Inc said on Monday it has applied for emergency use authorization in the US for its oral drug to treat mild-to-moderate patients of COVID-19.

The treatment, molnupiravir, has been developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. If authorized, it would be the first oral antiviral medication.

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Data released last week showed that molnupiravir could halve the chances of death or being hospitalized for those most at risk of contracting severe COVID-19.

Existing drugs include Gilead Sciences Inc’s infused antiviral remdesivir and generic steroid dexamethasone, both of which are generally only given once a patient has already been hospitalized.

Monoclonal antibody drugs have so far seen only limited uptake due to the difficulty in their administration.

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