Merck & Co Inc has signed deals to sell over 6 million courses of its experimental COVID-19 pill molnupiravir to governments around the world as nations try to tame the pandemic.
Merck’s COVID-19 treatment is not the only one in the game. U.S. peer Pfizer Inc halted early a trial of its antiviral drug Paxlovid after it proved to cut the risk of severe COVID-19 by 89%, outdoing the results seen with Merck’s product.
Pfizer said last week it struck a $5.29 billion deal with the U.S. government to deliver 10 million courses of its experimental COVID-19 pill.
Earlier, the company said it would allow generic manufacturers to supply its pill to 95 low- and middle-income countries through licensing agreements with international public health group Medicines Patent Pool (MPP).
Merck has licensing pacts for its COVID-19 pill in more than 100 countries. U.S. approval for both experimental pills is still pending.
While Pfizer expects to submit interim trial results for its pill to U.S. Food and Drug Administration before the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 25, review of the company’s Paxlovid by European Medicines Agency (EMA) started last Friday.
Merck’s molnupiravir received its first regulatory approval globally in Britain, where it is planned to be marketed under the LAGEVRIO trademark.
Although it is still under review in the European Union, faced with rising COVID-19 cases, EMA issued on Friday advice on using Merck’s COVID-19 pill for adults ahead of providing any wider recommendation.
Germany said last week it is in talks with Pfizer, Merck (known in Europe under the MSD name) and “all those who have promising medicines” on COVID-19 treatment.