Shares of Merck , soaring on encouraging trial data on the drugmaker's new Covid pill, could "conceivably go higher," CNBC's Jim Cramer said Friday. New Jersey-based Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics of Florida said Friday their antiviral drug, molnupiravir, reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by around 50% for patients with mild or moderate Covid cases. All participants in the late-stage trial were unvaccinated and had at least one underlying factor that put them at greater risk of developing more severe infection. "I think it's real," Cramer said on " Squawk Box." "It is a game changer." Merck plans to seek emergency use authorization for the drug in the U.S. as soon as possible. If cleared by regulators, molnupiravir could be the first oral antiviral treatment for Covid. Rivals including U.S.-based Pfizer and Switzerland's Roche are also racing to develop an easy-to-administer antiviral Covid pill . But so far, antibody cocktails, which have to be given intravenously, have been approved for treating nonhospitalized Covid patients. "We have to get away from the idea that you're going to the hospital if you're not vaccinated, even as we don't want to necessarily promote no vaccine. This is the game changer we've been looking for," the "Mad Money" host said, adding it could ease fears of people getting Covid at work. Shares of Merck jumped as much as 12% to a 52-week high of $84.34. The stock hit an all-time high near $90 in late 2019. "Merck has way underperformed. ... It's a very good company with a very good balance sheet. It just has underperformed like a lot of other drug stocks," Cramer said. "I don't like the rest of Merck's portfolio except it's cancer portfolio. But you know what? This is very, very important."
Jim Cramer on CNBC's Halftime Report.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Shares of Merck, soaring on encouraging trial data on the drugmaker's new Covid pill, could "conceivably go higher," CNBC's Jim Cramer said Friday.