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

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 countries

In 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. The generic makers are from 11 countries: Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Jordan, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa, South Korea, and Vietnam.

Charles Gore, MPP's executive director, said the group is encouraged by the large numbers of new and existing partners that moved quickly to receive sublicenses. "This is a critical step toward ensuring global access to an urgently needed COVID-19 treatment, and we are confident that, as manufacturers are working closely with regulatory authorities, the anticipated treatments will be rapidly available in LMICs."

The drug developers, which include Merck, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, and Emory University, have

covid-19 reports Merck
www.cidrap.umn.eduwww.cidrap.umn.edu

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