US Intends to Buy $1.2 Billion of COVID-19 Oral Antiviral Treatment
New Jersey-based Merck Inc. announced it has entered into a procurement agreement with the United States government for molnupiravir (MK-4482), an experimental oral antiviral originally developed to treat influenza at Emory University.
Molnupiravir is an investigational, orally bioavailable form of a potent ribonucleoside analog that inhibits the replication of multiple RNA viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the causative agent of COVID-19.
Molnupiravir is currently being evaluated in a Phase 3 clinical trial, the MOVe-OUT study, to treat non-hospitalized patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and at least one risk factor associated with poor disease outcomes.
Through this agreement, if molnupiravir receives Authorization or Approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Merck will receive approximately $1.2 billion to supply approximately 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir to the United States government.
Merck stated in a press release it 'has been investing at risk to support the development and scale-up production of molnupiravir and expects to have more than 10 million courses of therapy available by the end of 2021.'
Rob Davis, president, Merck, commented, “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.”
Merck confirmed it is currently in discussions with other countries interested in advance purchase agreements for molnupiravir.
Merck is developing molnupiravir in collaboration with Florida-based Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.