Merck promises simultaneous access to its anti-Covid pill for rich and poor countries

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US drug giant Merck has vowed to avoid the pitfalls of vaccine distribution by making its new anti-Covid pill available in rich and poor countries almost simultaneously.

Paul Sapper, the company’s director of global strategy, told AFP that Merck had begun drafting the access policy in July 2020, long before the first results on the drug’s effectiveness.

Britain last week became the first country to approve this antiretroviral treatment, which reduces the virus’ ability to reproduce when taken in the first few days after the onset of symptoms. It is administered very easily, with a glass of water, at home.

“We started developing our supply chain very early on,” Paul Saper explained. Merck plans to prepare the necessary doses for 10 million treatment regimens by the end of the year.

The price at which they will be sold will depend on the ability of countries to pay, according to a framework set by the World Bank.

In addition to its own supply, Merck, known as MSD outside the United States, entered into an agreement with eight generic partners in India and signed a voluntary licensing agreement with the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to facilitates access to treatment in 105 low- and middle-income countries.

“In the first and second quarters of 2022, we will have a significant amount of Merck products available in middle- and low-income countries,” said Paul Saper.

“There is a very good chance we will see a fairer access to this drug than we have seen in the response to Covid so far,” he said, adding that the pill could reach less-favored countries “around the same time.” which will reach the others.

If vaccines remain the “cornerstone” of the fight against the pandemic, “there will be a need for treatments, possibly even greater in areas where a small percentage of the population is vaccinated,” he said.

Merck has a competitor: Pfizer is also developing an anti-Covid pill and announced very positive first results last week. Discussions are underway with the MPP but no agreement has been announced yet.

Source: AMPE

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Source From: Capital

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