WASHINGTON, D.C. — An advisory board for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted 13-10 to authorize the use of Merck's COVID-19 anti-viral pill.
The company is seeking an emergency use authorization for its drug molnupiravir.
The FDA’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee looked at whether the benefits of the drug outweigh possible risks.
The pill would treat COVID-19 patients who are at risk of developing severe symptoms. To be effective, people would need to take multiple pills several times a day for five days.
According to new data from Merck, the pill reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by 30%, which is less than the initial data that showed the drug reduced the risk of severe disease by 50%.
If cleared by the full FDA, the pill would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19, adding a new weapon to the nation’s arsenal against the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the United Kingdom became the first country to grant conditional authorization for the easy-to-use treatment.
The consideration of the pill in the U.S. comes amid the emergence of the omicron variant, which was first identified in South Africa, but it has since been seen in countries across the world.