The US Food and Drug Administration is set to authorise COVID-19 treatment pills from Pfizer Inc and Merck, Bloomberg News reports, citing people familiar with the matter.
The two drugs, especially Pfizer’s pill Paxlovid, are seen as promising oral treatments that can be taken upon onset of symptoms at home to help prevent COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths.
Merck’s drug, molnupiravir, developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, was shown to reduce hospitalisations and deaths by about 30 per cent in a clinical trial of high-risk individuals early in the course of the illness.
Molnupiravir gained a narrow vote in favour of authorisation by a panel of advisers to the FDA on November 30.
Meanwhile, Pfizer’s Paxlovid showed near 90 per cent efficacy in preventing hospitalisations and deaths in high-risk patients.
The FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The authorisation might be given as early as Wednesday (US time), Bloomberg News reported.
In November, Britain became the first country in the world to approve Merck’s antiviral drug for use in people with mild to moderate COVID-19 and for those who have at least one risk factor for developing severe illness.
The US has a contract to buy as many as five million courses of Merck’s drug, and 10 million courses of Pfizer’s treatment.