As India Suffers Crisis, Merck Signs License Pact with 5 Indian Firms to Manufacture COVID-19 Drugs

by Tyler Chen
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India is currently facing a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak. Since April 17th, its daily confirmed cases have exceeded over 250,000. The country is in great need of medical and monetary support to alleviate the pressure on the healthcare system.

Merck’s Pact with 5 Indian Manufacturers

Merck (MSD outside the United States and Canada) announced the non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements for molnupiravir (EIDD-2801/MK-4482) with five Indian generics manufacturers.

Molnupiravir is an oral antiviral agent that is being studied in a Phase 3 trial for the non-hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19, and it is not approved in India at the moment.

Merck will grant licenses to Cipla, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Hetero Labs, and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. to manufacture molnupiravir for India and over 100 low- and middle-income countries. Furthermore, it will donate more than $5 million worth of oxygen-production equipment, masks, and financial aid to India.

Gilead Donates 450,000 Vials of Remdesivir

Besides Merck, Gilead has also stepped in to help India. The company said that it would provide technical assistance to India’s local manufacturers, expand local production capacity and donate active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to scale up Veklury (remdesivir) production.

The antiviral drug has already been approved by India’s government for restricted emergency use. Gilead will donate at least 450,000 vials of remdesivir to meet the surging medical needs of the country.

Currently, India has approved three COVID-19 vaccines, Covaxin by Bharat Biotech, Russia Gamaleya’s Sputnik V, and AstraZeneca’s AZD1222. In India, AZD1222 is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and sold under the name Covishield.

Related Article: New ‘Triple Mutant’ Deepens COVID-19 Crisis in India



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