Merck halts development of one of its COVID-19 drugs

Katie Adams - Print  | 

Merck has discontinued the development of its treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, the drugmaker said April 15.

Merck acquired the drug, MK-7110, when it bought OncoImmune for $425 million in late 2020. 

Earlier in 2021, the drugmaker released interim analysis of clinical trial data suggesting the drug reduced risk of death and respiratory failure for patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19. When Merck applied for FDA emergency use authorization in February, the agency asked it to produce additional data to support the drug's use, including new clinical trials and research about manufacturing the drug at scale.

Merck said it is discontinuing the development of MK-7110 due to the tight timeline required for it to produce additional data, the availability of other medicines that treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients and "technical, clinical and regulatory uncertainties." 

The drugmaker said it is focusing on producing Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine and developing molnupiravir, the COVID-19 pill it is developing with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Merck's announcement comes almost three months after the drugmaker abandoned its two COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

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