Merck says experimental pill cuts worst effects of COVID-19

WASHINGTON (AP) – Drugmaker Merck says its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus. It said Friday that it would soon ask health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize the drug’s use. If cleared, the drug would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19.

That could be a major step forward in global efforts to control the pandemic. All COVID-19 therapies now authorized in the U.S. require an IV or injection. A pill that could be taken at home could keep many patients out of the hospital.

The results have not been peer reviewed by outside experts.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.