USA announced on Wednesday an agreement with Merck to purchase 1.7 million experimental antiviral pills for COVID-19, if approved by federal authorities.

The $ 1.2 billion deal is for the drug molnupiravir, currently in phase 3 of a global clinical trial among 1,850 people, with results expected in the fall.

”This agreement is part of the entire Biden government approach to developing new treatments COVID-19 and respond to public health needs.” Said the Department of Health and Human Services.

The United States will only complete the deal if molnupiravir receives an emergency use authorization or full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Rob Davis, president of Merck, noted that the company “Is pleased to partner with the United States government on this new agreement that will provide Americans with covid-19 access to molnupiravir”.

10 million batches

The lab expects to have more than 10 million batches available for five days of treatment by the end of 2021. Molnupiravir, which Merck is developing in partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is one of several investigational oral antivirals being tested against COVID-19.

The drug belongs to a class of antivirals called polymerase inhibitors, which act on an enzyme that viruses need to copy their genetic material by introducing mutations that disable them to replicate.

It has also shown efficacy in laboratory studies against other viruses such as influenza, Ebola, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis, but it has not been licensed or approved for any of these diseases.

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