It may become the first oral antiviral drug for the treatment of this disease.

On Monday, Pharmaceutical Company Merck & Co said it had applied for emergency use in the U.S. of its drug to treat patients with COVID-19 in mild to moderate form. This development may become the first oral antiviral drug for this disease.

A permit from the FDA may help change the COVID-19 treatment system since the drug can be taken at home.

According to data published earlier this month, treatment with the experimental drug molnupiravir reduced the incidence of hospitalization and death by 50 percent in clinical trials conducted with patients with the mild or moderate disease who had at least one risk factor.

Interim data on the effectiveness of the drug developed jointly with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics strongly influenced the shares of manufacturers of vaccines against COVID-19 and prompted some countries, including Malaysia, South Korea, and Singapore, to start supply negotiations with Merck.

The company has a contract with the U.S. government to supply 1.7 million courses at a price of $700 per course. By the end of 2021, Merck expects to produce enough of the drug to conduct 10 million courses.

The company has also agreed to license the drug to several Indian generic manufacturers, who are expected to supply their products to more than 100 low- and middle-income countries.

The antiviral drug remdesivir from Gilead Sciences is usually prescribed only after hospitalization.

Drugs based on monoclonal antibodies from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly, which are usually administered by infusion, so far have only limited use due to the complexity of administration.

Merck shares rose about 1 percent at the opening of trading, after which they adjusted to $ 81.32.