FDA clears 2nd at-home Covid treatment, from Merck

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized Merck’s antiviral pill to treat Covid-19 for emergency use, adding another tool in the nation’s arsenal to combat the virus.

The FDA’s move comes a day after it authorized another antiviral drug, from Pfizer. Merck’s treatment, known as molnupiravir and developed in partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is cleared for use in adults with mild to moderate Covid who are at risk for severe disease, the agency said in a statement. Pfizer’s pill was authorized for people as young as 12.

The big advantage of oral treatments, like Merck’s and Pfizer’s, is that they can be taken at home, and don’t require an IV or injection. That could help the nation’s hospitals as new infections are expected to continue to surge this winter.

Clinical trials found that the treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization and death among high-risk Covid patients by 30 percent.

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