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Generic drug makers sign on to make Merck COVID-19 antiviral

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Following an initial licensing deal in October between the United Nations–based Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and Merck to allow pharmaceutical companies in other countries to make molnupiravir, an oral antiviral for treating COVID-19, the MPP today announced agreements with 27 generic makers.In other global developments, Denmark and Norway are among the countries reporting quickly rising levels of an Omicron subvariant, but it's not yet known if it will have an impact on the clinical picture or tools to fight the virus.Generic makers hail from 11 countriesIn a statement, the MPP said the agreements with drug firms pave the way for 105 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to access to the drug.

Clinical studies suggest the drug can cut the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by 30%.In December, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the drug for emergency use.

Merck has said it expects the drug is effective against the Omicron variant.The MPP said the agreements with the companies cover production of raw ingredients and/or the finished drug.

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