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Merck's COVID-19 drug to be reviewed by U.S. FDA advisers- Bloomberg News

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The Merck logo is seen at a gate to the Merck & Co campus in Rahway, New Jersey, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) -The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will send drugmaker Merck & Co’s experimental COVID-19 antiviral drug to a panel of its outside advisers for a review, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing a person familiar with the plans.

The advisory committee will weigh in on molnupiravir’s safety concerns, which have been raised by some experts, before the FDA makes a decision on authorization of the drug, the report said.

Merck earlier this week said it filed for U.S. emergency use authorization for molnupiravir to treat mild-to-moderate patients of COVID-19, putting it on course to become the first oral antiviral medication for the disease.

Pfizer Inc and Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG are also racing to develop an easy-to-administer antiviral pill for COVID-19.

Merck is developing molnupiravir in partnership with U.S.-based Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

In early October, data showed Merck’s drug could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalized for those most at risk of contracting severe COVID-19, pummelling shares of coronavirus vaccine makers.

The FDA and Merck did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

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