WASHINGTON (AP) — Drugmaker Merck said Friday that its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus and that it would soon ask health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize its use.
If cleared, the drug would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19, a potentially major step forward in global efforts to control the pandemic. All COVID-19 therapies now authorized in the U.S. require an IV or injection.
A pill that could be taken at home, by contrast, could keep many patients out of the hospital, easing the workload on strained health care professionals. It could also help curb outbreaks in lower-income countries that don’t have access to the more expensive infusion therapies.