The US Food and Drug Administration is poised to authorize a pair of pills from Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. to treat COVID-19 as soon as this week, according to people familiar with the matter—a milestone in the fight against the pandemic that will soon expand therapies for the ill.
An announcement may come as early as Wednesday. Pfizer’s pill, Paxlovid, and Merck’s molnupiravir are intended for higher-risk people who test positive for COVID.
The treatments, in which patients take a series of pills at home over several days, could ease the burden on stretched hospitals with infections poised to soar through the winter in the US.
“It’s the biggest thing to happen in the pandemic after vaccines,” said Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. The timing of the announcement, so late in the year, is unusual for the FDA and reflects the urgency behind the medicines, he said. (Agencies)