FDA Panel Endorses Merck's Antiviral Pill For COVID-19


Tuesday, November 30th 2021, 5:30 pm


OKLAHOMA CITY -

More treatments for COVID-19 could hit the market before the end of the year.

Tuesday evening, FDA advisers endorsed an anti-viral pill, moving Americans a step closer to having the first at-home medication for the virus.

"The thinking is once you are infected with the virus, if we can't prevent it, let's stop it from replicating, and if we can halt the replication, we can halt the illness," said Dr. Mary Clarke, the president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

Clarke said people will still get infected, but by stopping the replication of the virus, people who do get infected are less likely to become seriously ill.

"The only caveat with both of these is that they have to be taken early on," said Clarke.

FDA advisers discussed Merck's antiviral pill molnupiravir. The company said the drug reduces hospitalization and death by 30%.

The pill would be taken twice a day for five days.

"We know that we are not going to eradicate COVID," said Clarke. "That would be very nice if we never saw COVID again. I think we would all love that, but short of that the trick is to limit the seriousness of the illness."

With the green light, it would become the first "take at-home" treatment for COVID-19.

The FDA is also expected, in the coming weeks, to vet Pfizer's antiviral pill.

Results from Pfizer's study show when taken, in combination with an HIV drug, early on, it reduces the risk of hospitalization or death in high-risk adults by 89%.

"It does seem slow going," said Clarke. "It seems like they are dragging their feet on this, but it is a large amount of data that must be reviewed to make sure things are safe. There is just a lot of information they have to go through, and they want to get it right the first time. They don't want to miss anything."