Merck Will License Merck COVID-19 Pill Royalty-Free

Pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. has announced it will allow drugmakers around the world to produce its potentially lifesaving antiviral pill for treatment of COVID-19 without paying royalties as long as COVID-19 is considered a global health threat.

The agreement could mean access to the drug, molnupiravir, for millions in the developing world.

A recent study showed the drug cut hospitalizations and deaths  from COVID-19 by half.

From NPR:

Under the agreement, Merck and Ridgeback will receive no royalties as long as COVID-19 is considered a global emergency by the World Health Organization. Makers of coronavirus vaccines have yet to make similar agreements, despite pressure from governments and the WHO.

Molnupiravir, which is awaiting authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was originally developed by scientists at Emory University. It works by blocking the ability of the coronavirus to replicate.

If authorized, the drug would be the first COVID-19 treatment in pill form. Until now, all FDA-approved therapies have been administered by IV or injection.