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FDA authorizes Merck pill for COVID-19 treatment

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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized Merck’s COVID-19 pill for certain adults.

The authorization for molnupiravir is limited to adults over 18 who have a high risk of severe illness and “for whom alternative FDA-authorized treatment options are not accessible or medically appropriate,” the FDA said in a press release Thursday. It’s not recommended for use in pregnant people.

This is the second COVID-19 treatment in pill form after Pfizer’s pill, Paxlovid, was authorized Wednesday. Paxlovid is authorized for a slightly larger pool of people — anyone over 12 and at high risk of severe illness.

“As new variants of the virus continue to emerge, it is crucial to expand the country’s arsenal of COVID-19 therapies using emergency use authorization, while continuing to generate additional data on their safety and effectiveness,” Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said of the Merck pill’s authorization in a statement on Thursday.


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