Merck shares slide premarket as Pfizer soars on data from trial of rival COVID-19 antiviral treatment


Merck & Co. Inc. shares MRK, -9.86% slid 10% in premarket trading Friday after Pfizer Inc. PFE, +10.86% said its oral antiviral treatment candidate for COVID-19 reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in non-hospitalized high-risk adults in a Phase 2/3 trial. Merck said last month that its experimental treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 50% in a late-stage trial. It has already submitted an application to U.S. regulators for authorization. Experts have said oral treatments for COVID-19 would be a game-changer as they would allow patients to be treated at home, while current treatments need to be conducted in a clinical setting using intravenous or subcutaneous infusion. Pfizer shares were last up about 10%. Among vaccine makers, Moderna Inc. shares MRNA, -16.56% were down 6% and Johnson & Johnson JNJ, -0.71% shares were down 0.4%.

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