Merck to acquire COVID-19 drug developer for $425M

Merck announced Nov. 23 it will buy Rockville, Md.-based drugmaker OncoImmune for an upfront cash payment of $425 million to obtain rights to the drug it's developing for patients hospitalized with severe and critical COVID-19.

The treatment, known as CD24Fc, is administered intravenously along with standard-of-care. Phase 3 trial results for the drug showed it reduced the risk of death or respiratory failure by more than 50 percent in hospitalized COVID-19 patients who required oxygen. Comprehensive results will soon be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal, Merck said in a news release.

Merck said the deal, which is subject to approval under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, is expected to close by the end of 2020. Upon the acquisition's close, Merck aims to ramp up production of CD24Fc in anticipation of its FDA emergency authorization.


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