American pharmaceutical company Merck has announced a licensing deal that will allow developing nations to access its antiviral pill for the treatment of Covid-19.
Merck has granted a royalty-free license for its promising Covid-19 drug, molnupiravir, that will allow it to be made and sold in developing nations.
Molnupiravir has shown promise in treating the virus, and the agreement to license its manufacture could provide access to millions of individuals in the developing world.
Merck reported recently that during a clinical trial, the medicine cut the likelihood of hospitalizations and fatalities in half among high-risk Covid patients who took it promptly after infection.
The drug is taken orally and is mass-produced in pill form. It was initially developed by scientists at Emory University to treat influenza, and works by blocking the ability of the coronavirus to replicate.
An agreement has now been reached between Merck and the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) on voluntary licensing to facilitate affordable global access for molnupiravir. Under the agreement, the drugmakers will allow MPP to license the manufacture of molnupiravir to qualified pharmaceutical companies across the globe.
“This agreement will help create broad access for molnupiravir use in 105 low- and middle-income countries following appropriate regulatory approvals,” Merck and the patent pool said in a news release.
MPP Executive Director Charles Gore said in a statement that the interim results for molnupiravir “are compelling and we see this oral treatment candidate as a potentially important tool to help address the current health crisis.”
“This transparent, public health-driven 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,” Gore added.
Unlike producers of Covid-19 vaccines, Merck will not receive royalties as long as Covid-19 is considered a global emergency by the World Health Organization.
Once authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration, the drug will be the first Covid-19 treatment in pill form.
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