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Japan OKs Merck's oral COVID pill molnupiravir

Treatment drug already approved in nations including U.S., U.K. and Philippines

Merck's molnupiravir prevents RNA viruses from replicating within the body. It reduces the risk of hospitalization and death among high-risk COVID patients by 30%.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- A Japanese government expert panel gave the green light to Merck's antiviral pill molnupiravir on Friday, making it the country's first oral treatment against COVID.

Molnupiravir so far has been authorized for use in the U.S., U.K. and the Philippines, among others. Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia have also expressed interest in the drug, according to Reuters, though France has canceled its order.

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