US Clears Second COVID Pill By Merck, A Day After Pfizer

Wahington: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday authorised Merck’s COVID pill for high-risk adults. The step comes a day after a similar pill by Pfizer was given the green light, NDTV reported.

“Today’s authorization provides an additional treatment option against the COVID-19 virus in the form of a pill that can be taken orally,” FDA scientist Patrizia Cavazzoni was quoted as saying by CNBC.

The medication could be available to patients as early as this weekend. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC earlier this month the company has already shipped some of the pills to the U.S. so they can be prescribed as soon as the FDA authorization comes through. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to quickly follow suit with its seal of approval, authorizing its distribution.

The pill, if delivered in time, could help alleviate the strain on healthcare systems during an expected wave of omicron infections.

Pfizer’s treatment is administered in two 150 milligram tablets along with a 100-milligram tablet of an HIV drug, ritonavir, twice daily. The HIV drug helps slow the patient’s metabolism, which allows Paxlovid to remain active in the body at a higher concentration for a longer period.

Merck’s 800-milligram pill is taken every 12 hours for five days after symptom onset. The drug was developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, CNBC reported.

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