Updated: December 23, 2021 8:33:40 pm
The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized Merck & Co’s antiviral pill for Covid-19, after giving the go-ahead to a similar treatment from Pfizer Inc a day earlier.
Merck’s drug, molnupiravir, developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, was shown to reduce hospitalizations and deaths by around 30% in a clinical trial of high-risk individuals early in the course of the illness.
The agency authorized the oral drug for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults who are at risk for severe disease, and for whom alternative COVID-19 treatments are not accessible or clinically appropriate.
The US government has a contract to buy as many as 5 million courses of the drug for $700 per course.
The drug is not authorized for use in patients younger than 18 because molnupiravir may affect bone and cartilage growth, the FDA said in a statement.
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