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Authorization for Antiviral Pill Sought

Merck has applied for emergency use authorization for its antiviral drug to treat COVID-19, the New York Times reports.

Last month, Merck announced that molnupiravir, which works by stopping SARS-CoV-2 from replicating, lowers the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Merck is developing molnupiravir with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

If authorization is given, molnupiravir would be the first oral treatment for COVID-19, CNN notes. It is given as four pills twice a day for five days. The Times adds that the US has already placed an order for about 1.7 million courses of treatment with molnupiravir and that it will cost about $700 per patient, which it says is about a third of the price of monoclonal antibody treatments.

Merck is seeking an EUA for the pill's use to treat high-risk adults like those in its study, the Times notes.

CNN adds that Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the trial results were promising, but added that the drug needed to under careful review by the Food and Drug Administration.