Pill to treat COVID-19 may be headed to pharmacies by year’s end

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Three companies including Merck, Pfizer, and Roche Pharmaceuticals are developing treatments for COVID-19 in the form of a small tablet that could be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as soon as this winter.

The medications are designed to limit the virus’ ability to replicate. But, one seems to be performing better than the other two: Merck’s monlupiravir.

“It’s a little unclear now why one would necessarily be better than the other,” Dr. Christopher Doehring, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health, told News 8. “It may be an absorption issue. It may be a bio-availability issue. It’s hard to say exactly what would be driving that. But, the early returns certainly are encouraging and we’ll see if any of them get FDA approval.”

Doehring says it’s likely these drugs will be available by prescription only and not intended to be used by people in the hospital. He also says while treatments in pill form may be another way to turn the tide of the pandemic, vaccination is key to ending it.


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