US adds Merck pill as 2nd easy-to-use drug against COVID-19

By MATTHEW PERRONE AP Health Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators have authorized a second pill against COVID-19, an antiviral drug from Merck that may help blunt the wave of infections driven by the omicron variant.

The Food and Drug Administration granted the drug emergency use Thursday for adults with early COVID-19 who face the highest risks of hospitalization.

It comes after the FDA greenlighted a more effective pill from Pfizer. As a result, Merck's drug may play have a far smaller role than initially predicted.

Final study results show Merck's drug is much less effective than originally predicted.

And the drug will carry strict safety warnings due to the risk of birth defects when used during pregnancy.


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