An oral antiviral drug appears to cut the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by roughly 50 percent in people newly diagnosed with the infection and at risk for severe disease, pharmaceutical company Merck announced Friday morning.
The drug-maker and its partner, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, released top-line results of a Phase III trial, which the companies ended early given the positive results. The companies say they will apply for an Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration as soon as possible.
The trial enrolled people who had newly tested positive for a SARS-CoV-2 infection and had onset of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms within just the past five days of starting the trial. The enrollees also had to have at least one risk factor for a poor outcome, such as having obesity, diabetes, heart disease, or being age 60 or above. While some participants received a placebo and standard care, others took an oral dose of the drug every 12 hours for five days.
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