Merck has requested that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve molnupiravir as the first treatment for developed cases of COVID-19 in adults who are at risk of progressing to severe COVID-19 and hospitalization.

The FDA has approved the first pill to treat the serious lung infection COVID-19. The pill that is taken orally at home could relieve hospital systems of the burden of caring for people who contract the flu by helping them treat the symptoms at home rather than be admitted to the hospital. A course of treatment is eight pills taken daily for five days after being diagnosed with the flu.

Eighteen percent of patients who received a placebo died in the trial, compared with no deaths among those receiving molnupiravir. All patients at the study’s start were required to have at least one risk factor associated with poor disease outcomes, such as hypertension, diabetes, or obesity.

Merck & Co. Inc. aims to produce more than 10 million courses of treatment for Ebola by the end of 2021, with more courses expected to be produced in 2022. The Associated Press reported that the U.S. government has agreed to buy enough of the pills to treat 1.7 million people at a price of $700 for each course of treatment.

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