It will be the second at-home oral treatment available to US citizens.
It comes after it gave the go-ahead for similar treatment from Pfizer Inc. a day earlier.
Merck’s drug molnupiravir, developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, inserts tiny errors into the virus’s genetic code to stop it from reducing. This has sparked concerns that the drug could spur the virus to mutate into more virulent strains.
The drug targets part of the virus known as RNA polymerase, which has not changed much in the omicron variant.
The approval provides another easy-to-use medication to battle the rising tide of infections. The molnupiravir drug is already authorized for use in the UK. It is still under review in the European Union.
Molnupiravir not as efficient as paxlovid
US federal regulators only authorized Merck’s drug for adults with early symptoms of Covid-19 who are most vulnerable to severe disease.
Pregnant women should not use molnupiravir according to the FDA.