We could soon be able to treat COVID-19 with just a pill. Pharmaceutical giant Merck on Monday submitted an application to the US Food and Drugs Administration for seeking approval of the drug molnupiravir, which could become the first antiviral pill to treat COVID-19.
Reported first by the New York Times, the Biden administration is working on the authorization that is expected to come within weeks. If the pill is approved, it could be allocated to states in the same way as vaccines. States could then distribute the pills the way they want to, as per the officials.
The pill, if offered authorisation will only be given to high-risk adults which in the clinical trials was most commonly individuals over the age of 60 or people with obesity, heart disease or diabetes.
If the pill manages to get the necessary authorization, it would help thousands of people who are getting infected due to the novel coronavirus, albeit the supply in the initial stages could be a little constrained at least in the beginning.
The Federal government has placed an advance order for enough pills for 1.7 million Americans, priced at $700 per patient — roughly a third of the price of what the government is currently paying for monoclonal antibody treatments that are usually administered through intravenous fusion.
Merck plans on producing enough pills for a population of 10 million by the end of the year. Governments around the world have also shown interest in the pill with Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea announcing various deals.
However, Merck isn’t the only one in the race to make COVID-19 curing pills. Pfizer is in the race too, as well as Atea Pharmaceuticals-Roche, who will reveal their study results next month.