Merck says experimental pill cuts worst effects of COVID-19

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Drugmaker Merck says its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus.

That is potentially a leap forward in the global fight against the pandemic.

The company said Friday it will soon ask health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize the pill’s use.

A decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could come within weeks after that. If cleared, the drug would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19. All COVID-19 therapies now authorized in the U.S. require an IV or injection.

The results have not been peer reviewed by outside experts.

An independent group of medical advisers monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early because the interim results were so strong.

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