WASHINGTON (Great Lakes News) – The U.S. government will pay Pfizer $5.29 billion for 10 million treatment courses of its potential COVID-19 pill if regulators authorize it.

Pfizer has asked the FDA to authorize emergency use of the experimental pill which the company says has been shown to significantly cut the rate of hospitalizations and deaths among people infected with COVID-19.

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The FDA is already reviewing a competing pill from Merck and will hold a public meeting on that medication later this month.