FDA advisory committee recommends granting emergency use authorization to the first pill to treat COVID

On Tuesday, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee voted in favor of granting emergency use authorization to Merck & Co's pill to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients.

Recent trials have shown the drug - called molnupiravir - stops the virus from making copies of itself, which prevents the coronavirus from spreading throughout the body and can reduce the risk of death, or hospitalization for those at high risk, by 30 percent.

According to an NBC News report, members of the agency’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee voted 13-10 in favor of the treatment.

While the FDA is not obligated to follow the advisory group's recommendations, it seldom goes against the guidance of the group.

If approved by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Merck's drug would be the first oral medication for COVID-19 - and could allow patients to take the drug at home.

NBC News reported that during their Tuesday presentation, Merck’s officials said they expect the drug to be effective against the new omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, but added that further testing is still needed.

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