Merck applies for emergency use authorization for antiviral COVID-19 pill

KENILWORTH, N.J. (NBC) – Merck says it has asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize emergency use of its experimental antiviral pill to treat COVID-19 in adults.

The U.S. drugmaker’s request came after phase three clinical trial data showed the medication, known as “Molnupiravir,” reduced the chances that patients newly diagnosed with COVID would be hospitalized by about 50%.

The drug works by inhibiting the replication of the virus inside the body.

If approved by U.S. regulators, it would be the first pill to treat COVID-19 and it could be available to Americans by late this year.

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