CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – StarMed Healthcare announced on Thursday it will be offering the first antiviral pill available to treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms. It is most effective when it is taken within five days of being diagnosed with COVID-19, it said.

The pill, manufactured by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is named molnupiravir.

Molnupiravir was shown in clinical trials to reduce COVID-19 patients’ chance of hospitalization and death by 30-percent.

StarMed Healthcare said it will initially have the pill treatment at its Freemore location in west Charlotte, 4001 Tuckaseegee Road. COVID-19 patients can register for the treatment here.

All COVID-19 treatments are cost-free, with or without insurance.

The pill treatments are expected to be available in a few weeks.

Advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Nov. 30 recommended emergency use authorization of the treatment.

If the FDA approves, the pills will begin being distributed. StarMed Healthcare will mail prescriptions overnight to patients throughout North Carolina.

StarMed Healthcare said it plans to expand the pill treatment to its other locations throughout Charlotte and North Carolina.

The pill treatment is for five days and is most effective if you begin as soon as you’re diagnosed with COVID-19.

CBS 17 edited this article for its web copy.