Doctor: Merck's COVID-19 pill has 'potential to be game-changing'
Doctors are weighing in on Merck's new COVID-19 medication, which the drug maker recently submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for authorization.
Doctors emphasize that the pill is not a substitute for COVID-19 vaccines, but a treatment for those who contract the virus.
"It has the potential to be game-changing," says Dr. Zane Saul, head of infectious disease at Bridgeport Hospital. He says Merck's COVID pill was used on people that were over 60 years old and unvaccinated and adds that the research shows it is highly effective.
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"This is the first time we have an oral agent with significant activity that will prevent hospitalization 50% of the time," Saul says.
He says the pill has to be taken eight times a day for five days and it has to be within five days of developing symptoms.
Saul says this is big news for people who have avoided the shots.
"We're still seeing unvaccinated people rolling in every day," Saul says.
He says this anti-viral drug could also save time and keep people out of the hospital.
"You test positive, you call the doctor, they prescribe the pill for you, and you pick it up at the drug store," Saul says.
Merck requested emergency approval from the FDA on Monday.
The government purchased enough of Merck's medication to treat 1.7 million people.
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