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Behind the unvarnished enthusiasm over an experimental Covid-19 pill, questions are emerging about the cost of the treatment and the leverage the U.S. government may have to address excessive pricing.

At issue is molnupiravir, which is being developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Last week, the companies released top-line data showing the pill reduced the risk that newly diagnosed patients would be hospitalized by about 50%. Moreover, no deaths were reported among those given the pill, compared with eight deaths among people who received a placebo.

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