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HomeNews UpdateMerck foregoes royalties to allow global drugmakers to make its COVID-19 pill

Merck foregoes royalties to allow global drugmakers to make its COVID-19 pill

US pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co said it will license drugmakers in other countries to produce its potentially lifesaving antiviral pill for treatment of COVID-19 in adults.

And, in stark contrast to manufacturers of coronavirus vaccines, Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics will receive no royalties as long as COVID-19 is considered a global emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO), reports NPR.

COVID vaccine-makers have resisted making similar agreements, despite pressure from governments and the WHO.

The drug, known as molnupiravir, has shown promise in treating the disease, and the agreement to license its production could help millions of people in the developing world gain access to it. A recent study showed that it cut hospitalisations and deaths from COVID-19 in half.

Molnupiravir, which is awaiting authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was originally developed by scientists at Emory University. It works by blocking the ability of the coronavirus to replicate.

If authorised, the drug would be the first COVID-19 treatment in pill form. Until now, all FDA-approved therapies have been administered by IV or injection.

United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool said last Wednesday (27 October)  that it had reached an agreement with Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics under which MPP will be allowed to license the manufacture of molnupiravir to qualified pharmaceutical companies across the globe.

“This agreement will help create broad access for molnupiravir use in 105 low- and middle-income countries after appropriate regulatory approvals,” Merck and the patent pool said.

MPP executive director Charles Gore said the interim results for molnupiravir “are compelling and we see this oral treatment candidate as a potentially important tool to help address the current health crisis”.

“This transparent, public health-driven agreement is MPP’s first voluntary license for a COVID-19 medical technology, and we hope that Merck’s agreement with MPP will be a strong encouragement to others,” he added.


NPR article – Merck will allow drugmakers in other countries to make its COVID-19 pill (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


MSD to seek SAHPRA approval for its promising COVID-19 pill


Merck’s COVID antiviral pill may halve the risk of hospitalisation and death


Mkhize: Pfizer backs down over 'unreasonable demands'


COVID jabs for billions of humans will earn their makers billions of dollars


NGOs want drug pricing transparency, slate govt over 'pharma friendly’ policies


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