Advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration voted 13-10 Tuesday to recommend emergency use authorization of a pill made by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to help treat Covid-19.
Members of the FDA’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee were split in their vote to recommend molnupiravir, which can reduce the risk someone will progress to severe disease or death by about 30%.
The pills must be taken within five days of symptoms starting to do much good, and people must take pills twice a day for five days. Members of the committee were worried about risks to pregnant women.
Molnupiravir is not the only antiviral scientists are developing against Covid-19. Pfizer applied for authorization of its antiviral pill this month. The FDA has not yet set a date for its advisory panel to review that drug.
Next, the FDA will consider the committee’s recommendation. It doesn’t have to follow the committee’s advice, but often does.
Remdesivir, sold under the brand name Veklury, is an antiviral approved to treat Covid-19 but it’s infused, not given as a pill.