Merck Strikes Licensing Deal With Indian Generics Makers for COVID-19 Antiviral
Merck has issued licenses to five Indian generic drugmakers to produce its COVID-19 antiviral molnupiravir in a move to expand global access to the drug.
The agreements were signed with Cipla, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Hetero Labs and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, whose manufacturing facilities have all been prequalified by the World Health Organization.
Merck has also pledged to donate more than $5 million for supplies and equipment to aid relief efforts in the country.
Originally developed as an influenza treatment, molnupiravir works by introducing copying errors during viral replication. It was recently found to significantly reduce COVID-19 infection in a mid-stage study (DID, March 9).
Gilead Sciences also announced that it will ship at least 450,000 vials of its COVID-19 antiviral Veklury (remdesivir) to India and will donate the drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredient to Indian manufacturers to scale up production of remdesivir.
The White House has also pledged to provide raw materials to India that are needed to manufacture AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine (DID, April 27) and said it will share up to 60 million doses from its AstraZeneca vaccine stockpile to countries in need, including India. — Jason Scott