Dr. Scott Gottlieb says Merck’s Covid pill ‘can make a real difference’

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  • Merck said it has asked the FDA to authorize emergency use of its experimental antiviral pill to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults.
  • “The top line data from this Merck study was probably the best treatment effect from an orally available antiviral drug in treating any respiratory pathogen, so it could make a real difference,” said Dr Scott Gottlieb.

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Dr. Scott Gottlieb explained why he is optimistic about Merck’s COVID antiviral pill, when the drugmaker on Monday asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its pill to treat people with mild to moderate COVID symptoms .

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“The topline data from this Merck study was probably the best treatment effect from an orally available antiviral drug in the treatment of any respiratory pathogen, so it could make a real difference,” said the former FDA chief in the Trump administration.

If the agency signs off on the drug, it would be the first pill to work against COVID-19 and Americans could have it by the end of the year.

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Gottlieb told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” that Merck’s pill is part of an “overall, significant improvement” in our therapeutic toolbox against this virus, with not only vaccines and therapeutics, but more accessible diagnostics. Even with tests.

Host Shepard Smith also asked Gottlieb about masking rules across the country. Gottlieb told Smith that he thinks decisions will be made locally and noted the varying prevalence of the delta version across the US.

“We’ve seen a sharp decline in the South, where the delta largely runs its course, so cases are decreasing very rapidly in populous states like Texas and Florida, but you can see very dense epidemics in the Midwest and plains states. and we still don’t know how the northeastern and northern states will fare,” Gottlieb said.

He predicted that a Covid-19 delta wave could affect North American states, despite high vaccination rates and high pre-infection rates.

“I still think there’s a delta wave that’s spreading across the northern states as well as the northeast, it’s not going to be nearly as dense as you saw in the south, but we’re still probably going to have more spread in store.” in,” Gottlieb said.

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus, health-care tech company Etion Inc., and biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean’s “Healthy Sail Panel”.

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