Merck signs billion dollar COVID deal
IF Merck‘s (NYSE: MRK) and co-developer of Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ clinical stage COVID-19 drug molnupiravir gets approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the US government has agreed to purchase 1.7 billion doses at a cost of $ 1.2 billion.
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The billion dollar COVID supply agreement follows in the footsteps of previous agreements between the United States and drugmakers developing vaccines and treatments targeting the coronavirus. In January, the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense agreed to spend up to $ 2.625 billion on all finished doses of Regeneron Pharmaceutical‘s (NASDAQ: REGN) infused, antiviral cocktail before June 30.
Molnupiravir is an orally administered form of a ribonucleoside analogue designed to prevent replication of the RNA viruses responsible for the development of COVID. In April, Merck announced positive data in a Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating its use in outpatients, prompting it to upgrade the dose from 800 mg twice daily to phase 3 trials. phase 3 will determine whether molnupiravir reduces the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID in patients who have had symptoms for five days or less and who are at greatest risk of developing severe symptoms, such as the elderly or those with diabetes .
The US government agreement is only effective if the trial of molnupiravir proves that it is effective and safe enough to receive FDA clearance or emergency use approval. Merck’s phase 3 study results are expected in September or October.
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