Agency: At least four countries in the Asia-Pacific region announced agreements with the drug maker Merck to purchase a pill that the pharmaceutical company says could halve the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19.
Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea have all announced agreements to buy supplies of molnupiravir, the Covid treatment pill, even though their regulatory agencies have yet to approve the drug. Thailand and Taiwan are also reported to be in talks to purchase supplies of the pill.
The announcements came less than a week after the pill’s manufacturer released results from clinical trials that showed its effectiveness. The countries are the first to agree to buy the pill other than the U.S., which purchased enough pills for 1.7 million treatments for $1.2 billion in June.
Treatment: Merck’s pill, the first oral antiviral drug that can be taken at home, is expected to help limit future coronavirus outbreaks and to reduce the need for costly hospital stays.