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Mon, Dec. 06

COVID-19 Update: Drug makers seek FDA emergency approval of antiviral pill to treat coronavirus

This undated image provided by Merck & Co. shows their new antiviral medication Molnupiravir. The company said that its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected. The company announced Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, that it is seeking emergency approval from the FDA. (Merck & Co. via AP)

This undated image provided by Merck & Co. shows their new antiviral medication Molnupiravir. The company said that its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected. The company announced Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, that it is seeking emergency approval from the FDA. (Merck & Co. via AP)

COTTONWOOD — The first antiviral drug designed to be a COVID-19 treatment through a pill form is going in front of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval this week, according to a news release.

Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, making the combined announcement Monday, Oct. 11, are seeking emergency use authorization from the FDA for Molnupiravir, “An investigational oral antiviral medicine for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults who are at risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization,” a news release stated.

The companies are actively working with regulatory agencies worldwide to submit applications for emergency use or marketing authorization in the coming months.

It was created by researchers at Emory University in Atlanta and is given as four pills taken twice a day for five days.

“Molnupiravir would be a significant step forward in fighting the pandemic, as it would allow for the treatment of COVID-19 at home and is markedly cheaper than other treatments,” Yavapai County Community Health Services spokesperson Terri Farneti said in a statement. “An interim analysis from a clinical trial found the antiviral medicine reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50%.”

If Molnupiravir is approved, it will supply 1.7 million doses to the U.S. government for distribution.

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This COVID-19 dashboard is maintained by Yavapai County Community Health Services. It may not always reflect current updated numbers or match posted Arizona Department of Health Services data. For more county COVID-19 data visit https://www.yavapai.us/chs. For state data visit https://www.azdhs.gov/covid-19. (YCCHS/Courtesy)

YAVAPAI COUNTY

Yavapai County health officials reported 167 new COVID-19 cases and three new deaths over the weekend in a Monday news release.

The county has tested 147,488 residents for COVID-19 and there have been 26,951 positive cases and 652 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Verde Valley Medical Center in Cottonwood reported 18 new COVID-19 patients, while the Prescott-area Yavapai Regional Medical Center campuses reported a combined 37 patients. The Prescott VA reported one new patient.

The county is still experiencing high transmission of COVID-19 with a 14.1% positivity and 209 cases per 100,000 residents for the week ending Oct. 2.

STATE

Arizona health officials reported 1,760 new cases of COVID-19, but no new deaths Monday.

The Arizona Department of Health Services dashboard shows the state has now seen 1,120,361 cases and 20,382 deaths from the coronavirus since the pandemic started over a year ago.

Hospitalizations of patients due to COVID-19 dipped slightly Sunday to 1,755.

During the current surge, daily reported increases in cases reached as high as 4,740 while daily reported increases in the death toll topped 100 three times and virus-related patient counts exceeded 2,000 for weeks.

The Associated Press Contributed to this report.

Follow Brian M. Bergner Jr. on Twitter and Facebook at @52MediaWorks. Email him at bbergner@verdenews.com, or call 928-634-2241, ext. 6033.

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