/ Giovanni Cancemi, stock.adobe.com
Berlin After the announcement by the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. that it would apply for the emergency approval of the new COVID-19 drug Molnupiravir in the United States, the aid organization Doctors Without Borders demanded that the drug be made widely available as soon as possible after approval.
The drug needs to be made available and affordable for all who need it, said Leena Menghaney of the charity’s drug campaign.
For COVID-19 patients in poorer countries in particular, the approval of the first oral antiviral drug molnupiravir could represent a major step forward in providing potentially life-saving treatment.
According to the aid organization, billions of people in these parts of the world are still unvaccinated and are therefore particularly susceptible to the disease.
While Merck is expected to charge $ 700 for five days of molnupiravir treatment, a new independent study from Harvard University estimates a manageable generic price for a treatment at $ 20.
Since the drug has not yet been patented in India, competing Indian generic drug manufacturers are expected to bring the drug to market for less than $ 15 per treatment after approval as an emergency drug in India, according to Doctors Without Borders. That is 46 times less than what Merck plans to charge, the aid organization underlined.
Unlike large protein-based biological drugs, molnupiravir is a small molecule drug that Doctors Without Borders said would be easy to manufacture and register for generic drug manufacturers around the world.
The molnupiravir case shows why the so-called TRIPS waiver is so urgently needed, the aid organization warned: In a pandemic, intellectual property for COVID-19 drugs must not be a barrier to affordable access. Corresponding legal obstacles should be removed. © hil / sb / aerzteblatt.de