A United Nations-backed body has reached an agreement with almost 30 generic drugmakers to produce low-cost copies of Merck & Co’s (MRK.N) COVID-19 tablet molnupiravir for poorer countries, increasing access to a medicine viewed as a weapon in the battle against the epidemic.
According to clinical trial data, the antiviral medicine, which got emergency permission in the United States in December, decreases hospitalizations and fatalities in high-risk patients by roughly 30%.
The deal, negotiated by the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) with Merck, permits 27 generic drugmakers from India, China, and other African, Asian, and Middle Eastern nations to create both components and completed drugs.
The MPP stated on Thursday that the agreement called for the medication to be supplied to 105 developing countries.
While COVID-19 is still classified as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization, the developers of molnupiravir, which include Merck, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, and Emory University, will not receive royalties for the sale of low-cost versions produced by generic drugmakers (WHO).
“This is a key step toward guaranteeing global access to an urgently needed COVID-19 therapy, and we are sure that the expected therapies will be available soon,” said MPP Executive Director Charles Gore.
Beximco Pharmaceuticals of Bangladesh, Natco Pharma of India (NATP.NS), Aspen Pharmacare Holdings of South Africa (APNJ.J), and Fosun Pharma of China are among the generics companies that will manufacture the completed product.