Merck and MPP Enter Into License Agreement for Investigational Oral Antiviral COVID-19 Medicine

Merck’s agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) aims to facilitate affordable global access for molnupiravir.

Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, announced on Oct. 27, 2021, that it would enter into a voluntary licensing agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to facilitate affordable global access to molnupiravir, an investigational COVID-19 antiviral medicine. The agreement aims to facilitate broad access for molnupiravir use in 105 low-and middle-income countries.

Molnupiravir is an investigational, orally administered form of a potent ribonucleoside analog that is designed to inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2. Invented by Emory University, it is being developed jointly by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics for the treatment of mild-to-severe COVID-19 in adults who are at risk for progressing to severe COVID-19. Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics recently submitted an Emergency Use Authorization for molnupiravir to FDA, which could make it the first oral antiviral medicine available for COVID-19 therapy.

This agreement will allow MPP to further license non-exclusive sublicenses to manufacturers (MPP License), diversifying the manufacturing base for the supply of quality-assured or World Health Organization (WHO)-prequalified molnupiravir to countries covered by the MPP License. Merck, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, and Emory University will receive no royalties for sales of molnupiravir under this agreement for as long as COVID-19 remains classified as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by WHO.

“The interim results for molnupiravir are compelling and we see this oral treatment candidate as a potentially important tool to help address the current health crisis,” said Charles Gore, executive director, MPP, in a Merck press release. “This transparent, public health-driven agreement is MPP’s first voluntary license for a COVID-19 medical technology, and we hope that Merck’s agreement with MPP will be a strong encouragement to others.”

“Merck’s mission to save and improve lives is a truly global commitment,” said Frank Clyburn, executive vice-president and president of Human Health, Merck, in the press release. “This agreement with MPP is another important element in our [multifaceted] strategy to accelerate broad, affordable access to molnupiravir, if approved or authorized, for patients no matter where they live, including in countries where governments face greater challenges to finance healthcare.”

Source: Merck