Merck: US to buy 1.4M more doses of COVID-19 pill

Merck: US to buy 1.4M more doses of COVID-19 pill
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Merck, together with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, announced early Tuesday that the U.S. government is set to purchase an additional 1.4 million courses of the companies' antiviral COVID-19 drug, if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants emergency use authorization for molnupiravir. 

With this additional purchase, the U.S. government has now ordered a total of 3.1 million courses of molnupiravir for about $2.2 billion, and has an option to purchase 2 million more courses of the drug, Merck said.  

“We’re honored that the U.S. government has chosen to purchase more than 3 million courses of molnupiravir, our promising oral antiviral, so that molnupiravir, if authorized, will be among the vaccines and medicines available to fight COVID-19 as part of our collective efforts to bring this pandemic to an end," Merck executive Frank Clyburn said in a statement.

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Merck requested emergency use authorization for molnupiravir in October when the U.S. government secured 1.7 million courses.

The FDA is scheduled to review Merck's request at the end of the month.

The CEO of Merck, Robert Davis, has said that the company is ready to distribute tens of millions courses of the medication if it is granted approval.

The drug is designed to be administered orally to those who test positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of severe illness, hospitalization or death from the virus.