Merck Pharma gives voluntary licences to five Indian companies on molnupiravir

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on April 27, 2021

Molnupiravir is being studied in a Phase 3 trial for treatment of non-hospitalised Covid patients

MSD Pharmaceuticals has announced non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements on its investigational oral drug molnupiravir, with five Indian generic manufacturers.

The licensees are Cipla, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Limited, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Hetero Labs and Sun Pharma, who have World Health Organization pre-qualified manufacturing facilities and experience as major suppliers to global and key low and middle income procurers, Merck Pharma said.

Under the agreements, Merck & Co Inc will provide licences to these manufacturers to supply molnupiravir to India and more than 100 LMICs (low- and middle-income countries). Merck & Co is also in discussions with the Medicines Patent Pool to explore the potential for additional licences, it added.

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Molnupiravir is being studied in a Phase 3 trial for the treatment of non-hospitalised patients with confirmed Covid-19. MSD is developing molnupiravir in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, a note from the company said.

Merck Pharma is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Merck Sharp & Dohme, known as Merck & Co Inc in the US and Canada.

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MSD has entered into these agreements to accelerate availability of molnupiravir in India and in other low- and middle-income countries after approvals or emergency authorisation are received from 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 & Co Inc.

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“Through partnerships with established Indian generics manufacturers, we are reinforcing our commitment towards expanding access to molnupiravir in India,” said Rehan A Khan, Managing Director, MSD-India Region.

“We look forward to collaborating with these partners and supporting them in advancing our mission of improving lives. We are in talks with the Government and other key stakeholders as we remain committed to expanding equitable access to medicines and bringing innovative treatments to the country,” he added.

Parallelly, Merck & Co will also donate more than $5 million worth of oxygen-production equipment, masks, hand sanitiser and financial aid to support relief efforts in India, the company said.

Published on April 27, 2021

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