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FDA health panel backs Merck COVID-19 antiviral pill

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A panel of experts for the Food and Drug Administration voted to recommend the emergency use authorization of a COVID-19 treatment pill Tuesday.

The FDA panel voted 13 to 10 that the benefits of the antiviral pill from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics for COVID-19 outweighed its risk. If approved, the medication will be the first oral treatment for the virus that people can take at home.

Health officials say the pill is meant specifically for adults with mild to moderate symptoms who face the greatest risk, including those with pre-existing conditions and the elderly.

Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo says the drug will be administered as early as possible after a positive diagnosis.

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