Christopher Occhicone / Bloomberg via Getty Images
The US-based pharmaceutical giant Merck plans to license drug manufacturers worldwide to manufacture its potentially life-saving antiviral pill for the treatment of COVID-19 in adults.
The drug known as molnupiravir has shown promise in the treatment of the disease, and the agreement to license its manufacture could make it easier for millions of people in developing countries to access.
The United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool announced on Wednesday that it has reached an agreement with Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. As part of the pact, US drug manufacturers will allow MPP to license the manufacture of molnupiravir to qualified pharmaceutical companies around the world.
“This agreement will help create broad access for the use of molnupiravir in 105 low- and middle-income countries, after appropriate regulatory approvals,” Merck and the Patent Pool said in a press release.
MPP Executive Director Charles Gore said in a statement. that the interim results for molnupiravir “are compelling and we view this oral treatment candidate as a potentially important tool in addressing the current health crisis.
“This transparent, public health agreement is MPP’s first voluntary license for a COVID-19 medical technology, and we hope that Merck’s agreement with MPP will be a strong encouragement to others,” added Gore.
Under the agreement, Merck and Ridgeback will not receive any royalties as long as COVID-19 is classified as a global emergency by the World Health Organization.
Vaccine manufacturers have yet to reach similar agreements despite pressure from governments and the WHO.
Molnupiravir is pending approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.