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U.S. to Buy $2.2 Billion Worth of Oral Antivirals to Combat COVID-19

November 9, 2021 • 7:23 am CST
(Precision Vaccinations)

New Jersey-based Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics today announced that the U.S. government would exercise two of its options to purchase a total of 1.4 million additional courses of the oral antiviral medicine molnupiravir if it is granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) or approval by the U.S. FDA, for approximately $1 billion.

The application will be discussed at the FDA's Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee meeting on November 30, 2021.

With these exercised options, the U.S. government has now committed to purchasing a total of approximately 3.1 million courses of molnupiravir for roughly $2.2 billion.

The U.S. government also can purchase more than 2 million additional courses through further options that remain in the contract.

"We're honored that the U.S. government has chosen to purchase more than 3 million courses of molnupiravir, our promising oral antiviral...." commented Frank Clyburn, president of Human Health, Merck, in a press release.

In anticipation of the results from MOVe-OUT and the potential for regulatory authorization or approval, Merck has been producing molnupiravir at risk and expects to produce 10 million courses of treatment by the end of 2021 with at least 20 million courses to be produced in 2022.

As part of its commitment to widespread global access, Merck previously announced that it has entered into a licensing agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool to increase broad access for molnupiravir in low- and middle-income countries.

Recently, the European Medicine Agency, the Heads of Medicines Agencies in Europe, confirmed it is expediting its molnupiravir review on November 8, 2021.

And Thailand's Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced they would purchase 2 million molnupiravir pills.

Molnupiravir (MK-4482, EIDD-2801) is an investigational, orally administered form of a potent ribonucleoside analog that inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. If authorized or approved, the recommended dose for molnupiravir based on the Phase 3 MOVe-OUT clinical trial would be 800 mg twice daily for five days.

Molnupiravir is an oral antiviral that reduces the ability of the SARS-CoV-2 betacoronavirus to multiply in the body. It does this by increasing the number of alterations (mutations) in the virus's genetic material (RNA) in a way that impairs the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to multiply. 

Known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada, Merck 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. 

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