Merck agrees to let other drug makers make its COVID pill

Pharmaceutical company Merck has agreed to allow other drug makers worldwide to make its COVID-19 treatment, the first pill that has been shown to be effective against the disease

Via AP news wire
Wednesday 27 October 2021 12:59
Merck COVID Pill Agreement
Merck COVID Pill Agreement

Pharmaceutical company Merck agreed to allow other drug makers worldwide to produce its COVID-19 pill, in a move aimed at helping millions of people in poorer countries get access to the potentially life-saving drug, a United Nations-backed public health organization said on Wednesday.

The Medicines Patent Pool said in a statement that it had signed a voluntary licensing agreement for molnupiravir with Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

The agreement will allow the Medicines Patent Pool to grant further licenses to qualified companies who are approved to make the drug. Neither drug maker will receive royalties under the agreement for as long as the World Health Organization deems COVID-19 to be global emergency. Molnupiravir is the first pill that has been shown to treat the disease.

Charles Gore, the executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool, said the early results for molnupiravir were “compelling” and that he hoped this first voluntary licensing agreement for a COVID-19 treatment would lead to others.

Despite repeated requests from governments and health officials, no vaccine makers have agreed to a similar deal. A hub set up by WHO in South Africa intended to share messenger RNA vaccine recipes and technologies has not enticed a single pharmaceutical to join.

Merck has requested its pill be licensed by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, decisions that could come within weeks.

Merck reported this month that molnupiravir cut hospitalizations and deaths by half among patients with early symptoms of COVID-19. The results were so strong that independent medical experts monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early.

An antiviral pill that people could take at home to reduce their symptoms and speed recovery could prove groundbreaking, easing the crushing caseload on hospitals and helping to curb outbreaks in poorer countries with weak health care systems.

It would also bolster a two-pronged approach to the pandemic: treatment by way of medication and prevention, primarily through vaccinations.

___

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in