Merck to get $1.2B from US if COVID-19 treatment clears FDA

The U.S. government has signed a deal to purchase 1.7 million courses of Merck's COVID-19 antiviral drug molnupiravir for $1.2 billion if it's authorized by the FDA, the drugmaker said June 9. 

Molnupiravir is an experimental oral antiviral drug designed to treat patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at risk of developing severe disease. It's currently in phase 3 trials to determine if it can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19. It's being developed in collaboration with Miami, Fla.-based Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. 

If the drug gets an emergency use authorization from the FDA or is fully approved, the U.S. will give Merck $1.2 billion for 1.7 million courses of treatment. Merck, based in Kenilworth, N.J., said it expects to have more than 10 million courses available by the end of this year and it plans to sign deals to supply it to other countries as well. 

"In addition to this agreement with the U.S. government, we are actively engaged in numerous efforts to make molnupiravir available globally to fulfill Merck’s commitment to widespread access," Merck President Rob Davis said in a news release. 

Merck said the earliest it expects to file for FDA authorization is the second half of this year. 

Read the full news release here


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