Experts: Merck’s COVID-19 pill could cut risk of hospitalization, death in half
Experts say a promising new pill from pharmaceutical company Merck could soon help cut the risk of hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 in half.
The company wants to use the pill, named Molnupiravir, to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults who are at risk of developing severe illness and possible hospitalization.
“The pill looks like it’s very good and may be the first oral therapy that we can give to people to prevent them from getting serious illness,” says Dr. Aaron Glatt of Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital.
If approved, it would be able to be taken at home shortly after diagnosis. The trial results were said to be so positive that it was ended early and the company is now asking the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization.
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“This drug dramatically improved the outcome of these patients. It decreased hospitalizations of these patients by about half – but much more importantly, none of the patients who received this medication passed away,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, of Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital.
The president and CEO of Merck said, “The extraordinary impact of this pandemic demands that we move with unprecedented urgency, and that is what our teams have done by submitting this application for molnupiravir to the FDA within 10 days of receiving the data."
The treatment calls for a total of 40 pills -- four pills twice a day for five days.
Doctors say having a pill as a possible therapy would mean some patients would no longer need to come to a hospital or treatment.
Merrick resident Kay Chebuske says she is not vaccinated against COVID-19 because she’s worried about an allergic reaction, but would try Merck’s pill.
“I would rather have that than a shot to tell you the truth,” Chebuske says.
The U.S. government has agreed to buy about 1.7 million courses of the drug for approximately $1.2 billion, pending FDA emergency use authorization.
Merck says it expects to produce 10 million courses of the treatment by the end of 2021.