Merck to share its COVID-19 pill formula with other drugmakers

Merck on Oct. 27 signed a licensing deal that allows other drugmakers to manufacture its promising COVID-19 antiviral pill molnupiravir, a move that will create cheaper access to the drug in low-income nations.

The drugmaker granted royalty-free licensing to molnupiravir to the Medicines Patent Pool, a United Nations-backed nonprofit focused on making medical treatments more accessible globally. The deal will allow companies in 105 countries, most of which are in Africa and Asia, to manufacture the pill. 

"This agreement with MPP is another important element in our multifaceted strategy to accelerate broad, affordable access to molnupiravir, if approved or authorized, for patients no matter where they live, including in countries where governments face greater challenges to finance healthcare," Frank Clyburn, Merck's executive vice president and president of human health, said in a news release.

On Oct. 1, Merck released data showing molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by about 50 percent in a phase 3 trial. On Oct. 11, the drugmaker applied for FDA emergency use authorization for the pill.


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