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Will Merck's COVID-19 Pill Sink Regeneron's and Eli Lilly's Antibody Therapy Sales?

Merck (NYSE: MRK) and its partner, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, hope to soon win U.S. Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the first COVID-19 pill. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Oct. 13, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss the potential impact of Merck's pill on COVID-19 antibody therapies.

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Keith Speights: We briefly touched on this on Monday of this week, but Merck and its partner, Ridgeback, have now filed for Emergency Use Authorization for their COVID-19 pill.

We were just talking about whether or not AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN) might be able to capture market share, take market share away from Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) and Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) with its COVID-19 antibody therapy. But do you think maybe that's a moot point if Merck's pill reaches the market? Do you think Merck's oral therapy potentially could cause the sales of all of these antibody therapies to plunge?

Brian Orelli: I think an oral medication is certainly a lot more convenient than an injection or an infusion. Patients really don't even have to go see their doctor, they can get confirmed that they have COVID via tests and then a telehealth visit to get the prescription and then the patient doesn't even leave their house if they have somebody who can go pick up the medication or then get it delivered.

I think as long as Merck can make enough of the pill, and that's probably the limiting factor here. It's likely that it will take the market share away from the antibody treatments for sure.

Speights: Of course, it won't necessarily be just Merck, there are others on the way and we've talked about some of the other companies in the past. But again, this just shows how fluid this market really is.

Just because one company or a couple of companies rollout a product that really seems promising, don't count on those sales recurring for too awfully long because there are other companies out there developing therapies that could be even better.

Orelli: Maybe the opposite is true, too, because Eli Lilly's treatment was basically dead, and then it turned out to work fairly well on the delta variant, it came back to life. That happens the other way, too.

Speights: Yeah. COVID-19 has really proven to be an area where you can nearly throw some of the predictions out the window because things change so quickly.

Brian Orelli, PhD has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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