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U.K. Approves Merck Antiviral Pill To Treat COVID-19

Provided By - Video Elephant on November 04, 2021
Britain granted conditional authorization Thursday to the first pill shown to successfully treat COVID-19 so far. It also is the first country to OK the treatment from drugmaker Merck, although it wasn't immediately clear how quickly the pill would be available.SEE MORE: Cheap Antidepressant Shows Promise Treating Early COVID-19The pill was licensed for adults 18 and older who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have at least one risk factor for developing severe disease, such as obesity or heart disease. Patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 would take four pills of the drug, known molnupiravir, twice a day for five days.An antiviral pill that reduces symptoms and speeds recovery could prove groundbreaking, easing caseloads on hospitals and helping to curb outbreaks in poorer countries with fragile health systems. It would also bolster the two-pronged approach to the pandemic: treatment, by way of medication, and prevention, primarily through vaccinations.Molnupiravir is also pending review with regulators in the U.S., the European Union and elsewhere. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced last month it would convene a panel of independent experts to scrutinize the pill's safety and effectiveness in late November.Initial supplies will be limited. Merck has said it can produce 10 million treatment courses through the end of the year, but much of that supply has already been purchased by governments worldwide.In October, U.K. officials announced they secured 480,000 courses of molnupiravir and expected thousands of vulnerable Britons to have access to the treatment this winter via a national study.Merck announced preliminary results in September showing its drug cut hospitalizations and deaths by half among patients with early COVID-19 symptoms. The results haven't yet been peer reviewed or published in a scientific journal.The company also didn't disclose details on molnupiravir's side effects, except to say that rates of those problems were similar between people who got the drug and those who received dummy pills.Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

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