The success of Merck’s antiviral — and other COVID-19 pills in development — may depend on how quickly people start taking them

The success of Merck’s antiviral — and other COVID-19 pills in development — may depend on how quickly people start taking them
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In the not-too-distant future, you may be able to walk into a doctor’s office, get tested for SARS-CoV-2, and walk out with pills or a prescription if you end up testing positive for the virus. “Finally, we have another potential tool,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said Oct. 6 at a White House briefing, “a promising new oral drug that people could take at home soon after COVID-19 to reduce the risk of severe outcomes.” The drug is molnupiravir, which Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK) and Ridgeback Therapeutics say cuts the risk of hospitalization and death by 50%.

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