Merck’s COVID-19 antiviral pill is the second approved by the FDA

The COVID-19 antiviral tablet from Pfizer will be competing in the US. The Associated Press reports has reported that the Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization to Merck’s Molnupiravir tablet. SARS-CoV-2 replication is limited by inserting “errors in the virus’ genome while it is still young. This helps to prevent severe cases in high-risk patients.

However, the medicine may not be as popular as Pfizer’s Paxlovid. Merck’s offer will be limited to patients aged 18 or older, whereas Pfizer’s is available to anyone younger. There are concerns that it may affect bone and cartilage growth in younger patients. The FDA warns against the use of it while pregnant or trying to conceive. Women should wait days before using birth control, and men should wait three months.

Molnupiravir is not as effective as Paxlovid. Merck’s solution only managed to reduce hospitalizations and deaths by 30 percent. Pfizer’s was able to achieve a reduction of as high as 90% in death rates. In situations where Paxlovid cannot be obtained, this pill could become the second option. Both products will be effective against the Omicron virus variant, as they don’t target mutational spike proteins.

This could still be a useful tool to reduce COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations. The most accessible pill for Pfizer will be available when the US orders enough medication to treat 10,000,000 patients. However, enough Merck’s drug will be available to treat 3.1 million. Even though the drug’s effectiveness may be limited, it could save hundreds of thousands from the worst of the disease.

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