FDA endorses COVID-19 treatment pill from Kenilworth-based Merck

The first at-home treatment pill for the virus is called molnupiravir. It treats patients at risk of developing severe symptoms and reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by 30%.
The treatment could be available within weeks, available at pharmacies based on a prescription from a doctor.
Health professionals, however, are still advising people to maintain known practices to avoid COVID-19.
“The best way to fight the pandemic is to get the vaccine, follow social distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing if appropriate. If you do get COVID, then this is one of the things that may help you reduce the risk of hospitalization or death,” says Emergency Medicine Hudson Regional Hospital Medical Director Alexander Sarenac.
The FDA advisory committee voted a close 13 to 10 in favor of endorsing the treatment.
The FDA is expected to approve a similar treatment from Pfizer in the coming weeks.
At this point, it's unclear how effective the pills will be from keeping the omicron variant from replicating.
“Given that we are still learning about the new variant, I don’t think anyone knows the efficacy will change with a new variant. However, it has been proven efficacious with the original COVID and also the other variants as well,” Sarenac says.
The drug still needs final authorization from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before it is publicly available.