KENILWORTH, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced it has entered into a procurement agreement with the United States government for molnupiravir (MK-4482). Molnupiravir is currently being evaluated in a Phase 3 clinical trial, the MOVe-OUT study, for the treatment of non-hospitalized patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and at least one risk factor associated with poor disease outcomes. Merck is developing molnupiravir in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
“Merck is pleased to collaborate with the U.S. government on this new agreement that will provide Americans with COVID-19 access to molnupiravir – an investigational oral therapy being studied for outpatient use early in the course of disease – if it is authorized or approved,” said Rob Davis, president, Merck. “In addition to this agreement with the U.S. government, we are actively engaged in numerous efforts to make molnupiravir available globally to fulfill Merck’s commitment to widespread access.”
Through the agreement, if molnupiravir receives Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) or approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Merck will receive approximately $1.2 billion to supply approximately 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir to the United States government. Merck has been investing at risk to support development and scale-up production of molnupiravir and expects to have more than 10 million courses of therapy available by the end of 2021.
Merck also plans to submit applications for emergency use or approval to regulatory bodies outside of the U.S. and is currently in discussions with other countries interested in advance purchase agreements for molnupiravir. Merck is committed to providing timely access to molnupiravir globally and intends to implement a tiered pricing approach based on World Bank data that recognizes countries’ relative ability to finance their public health response to the pandemic.
As part of its access strategy, Merck has also entered into non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements for molnupiravir with established generic manufacturers to accelerate availability of molnupiravir in 104 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) following approvals or emergency authorization by local regulatory agencies.
In addition to developing molnupiravir, Merck is contributing to the pandemic response by collaborating with Johnson & Johnson to support the manufacture of its COVID-19 vaccine.
This procurement of molnupiravir will be supported in whole or in part with federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, in collaboration with the DOD Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND) under contract number W911QY21C0031.
Molnupiravir (EIDD-2801/MK-4482) is an investigational, orally bioavailable form of a potent ribonucleoside analog that inhibits the replication of multiple RNA viruses including SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. Molnupiravir has been shown to be active in several models of SARS-CoV-2, including for prophylaxis, treatment and prevention of transmission, as well as SARS-CoV-1 and MERS. EIDD-2801 was invented at Drug Innovations at Emory (DRIVE), LLC, a not-for-profit biotechnology company wholly owned by Emory University, and with partial funding support from the U.S. government. Since licensed by Ridgeback, all funds used for the development of EIDD-2801 by Ridgeback have been provided by Wayne and Wendy Holman and Merck.
The Phase 3 portion (Part 2) of the MOVe-OUT study, evaluating the potential of molnupiravir to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death, is ongoing. Merck currently anticipates that, pending favorable results from MOVe-OUT, the earliest possible submission for an Emergency Use Authorization for molnupiravir will be in the second half of 2021. Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics plan to share further findings from the ongoing molnupiravir development program with regulatory agencies as they become available. For more information on the molnupiravir clinical trial please visit https://merckcovidresearch.com/.
In addition, Merck plans to initiate a clinical program to evaluate molnupiravir for post- exposure prophylaxis in the second half of 2021.
For 130 years, Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals – including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases – as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.
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