Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

France says it has ordered 50,000 doses of Merck's COVID-19 antiviral pill

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The Merck logo is seen on a sign at the Merck & Co campus in Rahway, New Jersey, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

PARIS, Oct 26 (Reuters) - France has ordered 50,000 doses of Merck & Co's (MRK.N) experimental COVID-19 antiviral drug for adults, the country's health minister Olivier Veran told a hearing at the French Senate on Tuesday.

"France positioned itself very early in pre-ordering. France ordered 50,000 doses of the drug," Veran told lawmakers about molnupiravir, which is Merck & Co's experimental antiviral pills to treat COVID-19 ailments.

Governments around the world are preparing to ensure they can cope any pick-up in the COVID virus as the winter season approaches in the northern hemisphere.

Merck & Co said on Monday that the European Union's drug regulator had initiated a real-time review of its experimental COVID antiviral drug for adults. read more

While vaccines are the main weapons against COVID-19, Merck's experimental pill molnupiravir could be a game-changer after studies showed it could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for those most at risk of contracting severe illness.

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Reporting by Matthieu Protard; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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