Merck CEO says the firm is ready to deliver 10 million doses of its Covid antiviral pill by the end of the year if it receives FDA approval
- Robert Davis, CEO of Merck, says the company is prepped to ship out ten million doses of molnupiravir, the company’s new Covid pill by the end of the year
- The drug, which is gaining momentum around the world, showed it could slash Covid hospitalizations and deaths in half
- Merck is seeking FDA emergency use authorization in the United States, along with regulatory approval in many nations worldwide
- Unlike other Covid treatment, the administration of molnupiravir can be done without using too many resources like special equipment or staff to monitor
Pharmaceutical company Merck & Co is set to distribute millions of doses of its new Covid pill by the end of the year if it receives approval from federal regulators.
Robert Davis, CEO of the Kenilworth, New Jersey-based company, told CNBC on Thursday that the firm is ready to deploy massive shipments of the drug as soon as it gets the greenlight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The pill, molnupiravir, has been found to slash the rate of hospitalization and death in half if taken in the days immediately following infection.
It is the first oral medication with the ability to fight the virus, and has been dubbed a ‘game changer’ by some experts due to its effectiveness and the ease of administering it.
Merck CEO Robert Davis (left) told CNBC on Thursday that his company is prepared to distribute 10 million doses of their new Covid pill, molnupiravir, by the end of the year if it gets federal approval
Molnupiravir (pictured) is the first oral medication that can combat COVID-19. While the vaccine is always preferred, many are hopeful the drug could help fight the virus in lower income nations where the vaccine is not readily available
‘Right now, we’re on pace to have 10 million courses ready before the end of this year, and more than double that next year,’ Davis told CNBC.
He also said his company is prepared to ship double that amount to nations around the world in 2022.
The drug will need to receive approval from the FDA before the distribution can begin in the U.S., though.
The agency plans to meet on November 30 to review emergency use authorization of the drug.
Data from Merck shows the drug can cut hospitalizations and deaths from the virus in half if taken within the first few days of a person feeling Covid symptoms.
‘I can tell you through the data we’ve seen and the studies we’ve done, we think this is a safe drug,’ Davis said
Administration of the drug requires a patient to take four pills, two times a day over the course of five days.
While it can not replace the vaccine, many are hopeful the drug could help lower income nations with less access to the vaccines fight the pandemic.
Merck is partnering with generic manufacturers around the world to mass-produce and distribute the drug.
In July, the company announced it would partner with generic manufacturers based in India to help make the drug widely available in the Covid struck nation.
The company also announced a partnership with the Medicines Patent Pool, a United Nations-backed public health organization, this week to help distribute the drug across over 100 other nations.
As part of the deal, generic manufacturers, approved by the Medicines Patent Pool, will be able to mass produce the drug in countries of choice.
Due to the ease of administering the drug – just giving a patient a pill does not require any special equipment or trained staff – it could play a key role in fighting Covid in countries with limited medical resources.
The U.S. has already ordered 1.7 million doses of the drug pending FDA approval. France has also ordered 50,000 doses of the drug to combat Covid.
European Regulators, like the FDA, are currently reviewing the potential for the drug to be approved across the continent as well.
If approved, molnupiravir will join a wide swath of monoclonal antibodies and steroid drugs that are already being used to combat the virus in hospitals.