Drug company Merck has given a royalty-free license for its COVID-19 treatment to the nonprofit Medicines Patent Pool, the New York Times reports. It adds this could enable the treatment to be manufactured cheaply around the world.
Merck recently announced that its drug molnupiravir reduced the risk of dying from or being hospitalized due to COVID-19 among high-risk individuals by about half. CNBC reported at that time that Merck said that it would be seeking emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration and that it would supply the US with about 1.7 million treatment courses, if authorized or approved.
The Times now reports that Merck will also be making the treatment more widely available through its licensing agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool, which is backed by the United Nations. Under this agreement, 105 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, will be able to sublicense the formula to make the drug.
"This is the first transparent public health license for a COVID medicine, and really importantly, it is for something that could be used outside of hospitals, and which is potentially going to be very cheap," Charles Gore, director of the Medicines Patent Pool, tells the Times.