Coronavirus pill maker Merck promises equal access for all countries to its products

Pharmaceutical giant Merck (USA) promises to make its drug for the treatment of coronavirus available to rich and poor countries, while ensuring simultaneous supplies.

The company’s director of global strategy Paul Sapper told AFP that Merck began developing the access policy back in the summer of 2020, pending results on the effectiveness of the tablets:

“We started expanding our supply chain very early on.”

The European Medicines Agency last week began evaluating the Covid-19 antiviral drug and is trying to speed it up. UK last Thursday already endorsed its use and became the first country in the world where Merck tablets are recommended for the treatment of coronavirus.

British Minister of Health Sajid Javid noted that the drug “Molnupiravir” in tablets will be prescribed to the most vulnerable patients, it should be taken twice a day. He is able to save people with fragile health or weak immune systems. Three-stage clinical trials have shown that it reduces mortality and hospitalization risk for Covid-19 by 50%. Antiretroviral treatment reduces the ability of the virus to reproduce, it is very easy get at homeby simply taking the tablet with a glass of water.

Molnupiravir was developed by scientists from the US National Institutes of Health and the University of Plymouth. In a nutshell, its action can be described as follows: the drug molecule disrupts the process of viral RNA replication and leads to copying errors. That is, when the coronavirus reproduces, it creates a copy of its own RNA, but the drug invades it, giving it an indication to self-destruct, clearing the human body of the virus.

Merck plans to have 10 million treatment regimens ready by the end of the year. The cost will depend on countries’ solvency, in accordance with the framework established by the World Bank.

In addition to its own supply, Merck (also known outside of the US as MSD) has entered into an agreement with eight Indian generic partners and has signed a voluntary licensing agreement with the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to facilitate access to treatment in 105 countries with low and middle income. Paul Minesweeper says:

“In the first and second quarters of 2022, we will have a significant number of Merck products available in middle and low income countries. There is a very good chance that we will see fairer access to this drug than we have seen in response to Covid so far. The pill can reach less affluent countries around the same time it reaches others. There will be a need for treatment, perhaps even more in areas where a small percentage of the population is vaccinated. ”

Merck previously agreed to supply about 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir to the United States, after receiving emergency use or full approval from the FDA. The company also, pending regulatory approval, has entered into agreements and is in negotiations for the supply and procurement of the drug with the governments of many countries, including – with Greece

Pfizer is also developing a Covid drug and already announced positive first results last week. Discussions are underway with the MPP, but no agreement has yet been announced.

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