Kenilworth-based Merck has entered into non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements for molnupiravir with five established Indian generics manufacturers. Molnupiravir is an investigational oral antiviral agent currently being studied in a Phase 3 trial for the treatment of non-hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19.
Merck is developing molnupiravir in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. It has entered the agreements to accelerate availability of molnupiravir in India and in other low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) following approvals or emergency authorization by local regulatory agencies.
“The scale of human suffering in India at this moment is devastating, and it is clear that more must be done to help alleviate it. These agreements, toward which we have been working as we have been studying molnupiravir, will help to accelerate access to molnupiravir in India and around the world,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and CEO, Merck. “We remain committed to aiding in the global response that will bring relief to the people of India and, ultimately, bring an end to the pandemic.”
The agreements have been signed with Cipla Limited, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Limited, Emcure Pharmaceuticals Limited, Hetero Labs Limited and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Limited – five generics manufacturers with World Health Organization (WHO) Pre-Qualified Manufacturing facilities and experience as major suppliers to global and key LMIC procurers. Under the agreements, Merck will provide licenses to these manufacturers to supply molnupiravir to India and more than 100 LMICs. Merck is also in discussions with the Medicines Patent Pool to explore the potential for additional licenses.
Separately, Merck will also donate more than $5 million worth of oxygen-production equipment, masks, hand sanitizer and financial aid to support relief efforts in India.
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