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Health Ministry authorizes Merck’s anti-COVID pill

Merck's new antiviral medication molnupiravir. (Merck & Co. via AP, File)
Merck's new antiviral medication molnupiravir. (Merck & Co. via AP, File)

The Health Ministry announces that it has approved use of Merck’s anti-COVID pill, after authorizing Pfizer’s medication for treating coronavirus infections at home.

The ministry says it inked a deal with Merck to purchase molnupiravir, which is being sold under the name Lagevrio, with the first shipment expected to arrive in the coming days. It doesn’t specify how many pills it agreed to buy.

The pill is less effective at treating COVID than Pfizer’s. The full results of a clinical trial released by Merck showed the drug reduced the rate of hospitalization and death for at-risk patients who took it shortly after infection by 30 percent — not 50 percent as previous results showed.

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