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US to pay $1 bn for 1.4 mn more courses of Merck's Covid pill

This brings the total secured courses to 3.1 mn and worth $2.2 bn

Topics
Coronavirus | Coronavirus Tests | Coronavirus Vaccine

Reuters 

Molnupiravir can be given to patients at home, unlike Gilead Sciences Inc.’s antiviral remdesivir and monoclonal antibody therapies, which are administered via an intravenous infusion usually in a hospital or a clinic.

The U.S. government will buy another $1 billion worth of the COVID-19 pill made by Merck & Co Inc and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, the companies said on Tuesday.

The government in June agreed to buy 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir for $1.2 billion and is now exercising options to buy 1.4 million more.

That brings the total secured courses to 3.1 million and worth $2.2 billion. Merck said the government has the right to buy 2 million more courses as part of the contract.

The drug has been closely watched since data last month showed that when given early in the illness it could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalized for those most at risk of developing severe COVID-19.

"Molnupiravir, if authorized, will be among the vaccines and medicines available to fight COVID-19 as part of our collective efforts to bring this pandemic to an end," said Frank Clyburn, president of Merck's human health business.

With limited options to treat people with COVID-19, the U.S government has also secured millions of doses of Pfizer Inc's rival antiviral drug, which last week was shown to cut by 89% the chance of hospitalization or death for adults at risk of severe disease.

Merck's application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be taken up by a panel of independent experts on Nov. 30, following which the regulator is expected to make a decision.

Britain last week became the first country in the world to clear the use of molnupiravir.

Merck expects to produce 10 million courses of the treatment by the end of this year, with at least 20 million set to be manufactured in 2022.

The drugmaker's shares rose nearly 1% to $83.41 in premarket trading.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Tue, November 09 2021. 19:17 IST
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