Nigeria, Others To Get cheaper Merck COVID-19 Pills
The global Medicines Patent Pool signed agreements with 27 manufacturers to produce the oral antiviral medicine molnupiravir, for supply in low- and-middle-income countries.
“This is a critical step toward ensuring global access to an urgently needed Covid-19 treatment and we are confident that… the anticipated treatments will be rapidly available in LMICs,” said MPP executive director Charles Gore.
Merck granted a licence to the MPP in an agreement announced in October. The MPP, in turn, issued sub-licences to the generic drugs makers, in agreements announced Thursday.
The sub-licences allow manufacturers to produce the raw ingredients for molnupiravir, and/or the finished drug itself.
The companies involved are spread across Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Jordan, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa, South Korea and Vietnam.
Five manufacturers will focus on producing the raw ingredients; 13 will produce both raw ingredients and molnupiravir itself; while nine will simply produce the finished drug.
– Reduction in deaths -In December, the US Food and Drug Administration regulator authorised molnupiravir for high-risk adults, a day after giving the go-ahead to a similar but more effective drug made by Pfizer.
Antivirals like molnupiravir and Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill work by decreasing the ability of a virus to replicate, thereby slowing down the disease.
Merck pill is taken within five days of symptom onset and was shown in a trial of 1,400 participants to reduce Covid hospitalisations and deaths by 30 percent among at-risk people.
Merck, also called MSD outside the United States, jointly developed molnupiravir with the Miami-based company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
“Accelerating broad, affordable access to molnupiravir has been a priority for MSD from the start,” said MSD’s director for policy and government relations, Paul Schaper.
“We are pleased to see this vision come to life.”