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Merck signage outside the company's headquarters in Kenilworth, New Jersey, in January 2021. Photo: Christopher Occhicone/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Merck said Monday it submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization for molnupiravir, its experimental antiviral COVID-19 treatment.

Why it matters: An oral antiviral drug designed to prevent or treat COVID-19 could be a key tool to combat the pandemic, and Merck's drug, which it developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, could be the first one authorized in the United States.

What they're saying: “The extraordinary impact of this pandemic demands that we move with unprecedented urgency, and that is what our teams have done by submitting this application for molnupiravir to the FDA within 10 days of receiving the data,” Robert Davis, CEO and president of Merck, said in a statement.

  • "We look forward to working with the FDA on its review of our application, and to working with other regulatory agencies as we do everything we can to bring molnupiravir to patients around the world as quickly as possible," Davis added.

The big picture: The emergency use authorization application comes after the company this month released the results of a clinical trial, in which the drug was shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by around 50%.

  • In June, the Biden administration agreed to buy about $1.2 billion worth of molnupiravir. The company said it expects to produce 10 million total doses of the drug by the end of 2021.
  • It is one of several antiviral medications currently under development or testing.

Go deeper: Pfizer testing oral pill for prevention of COVID

Go deeper

12 hours ago - Health

A choose-your-own COVID booster adventure

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

COVID-19 boosters are now available for many adults who want one.

  • But the various combinations of who should get one and when now that mixing and matching shots got the OK just made the process much more complex.

Why it matters: The CDC has yet to issue final clinical guidance but the panel's discussions and interim clinical considerations last week show picking whatever shot they want leaves room for confusion.

16 hours ago - Health

DeSantis touts bonuses for unvaccinated police who relocate to Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference Friday in Kissimmee, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced plans Sunday to "hopefully sign" legislation to provide a $5,000 bonus to police officers who relocate to Florida in order to avoid COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The governor's pledge during an appearance on Fox News comes amid escalating tensions with the Biden administration over its upcoming vaccine requirement for federal workers.

23 hours ago - Axios on HBO

Rand Paul claims vindication in battle with Anthony Fauci

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Mike Allen in an interview for "Axios on HBO" that President Biden should fire Anthony Fauci "just for lack of judgment, if nothing else."

The big picture: Paul claims vindication in his dispute with Fauci, played out at heated Senate hearings, over the level of risk of U.S.-funded research in Wuhan, where COVID began.