[Ip-health] Merck’s Molnupiravir – Overcoming impending barriers to affordable global access

Baker, Brook b.baker at northeastern.edu
Tue Oct 5 05:14:31 PDT 2021

Merck’s Molnupiravir – Overcoming impending barriers to affordable global access
Brook K. Baker, Senior Policy Analyst Health GAP
October 4, 2021

Now that there are press reports<https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.merck.com%2Fnews%2Fmerck-and-ridgebacks-investigational-oral-antiviral-molnupiravir-reduced-the-risk-of-hospitalization-or-death-by-approximately-50-percent-compared-to-placebo-for-patients-with-mild-or-moderat%2F&data=04%7C01%7Cb.baker%40northeastern.edu%7C4c5b91f5e2e34afb3bd408d98690d4fa%7Ca8eec281aaa34daeac9b9a398b9215e7%7C0%7C0%7C637688779070568943%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000&sdata=%2BF%2ByDhy5cBMBI8d8wFy0Cyr8MUrcx3w%2FahUPCFQgX0A%3D&reserved=0> on the efficacy of Merck’s molnupiravir as an outpatient antiviral therapy for newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 where the patient has at least one underlying risk factor and treatment can start within 5 days of first symptoms, it is important to assess potential barriers affecting affordable global access to molnupiravir.  We have every reason to believe that there will be shortages of supply, needlessly high prices, and inadequate, overly restrictive voluntary licenses that will exclude countless people in urgent need around the world, including fully 50% of people living in low-income and middle-income countries (L/MICs) alone.  This will lead to avoidable disease progression, more long-covid, and increased deaths.

Governments must not be allowed to repeat the odious mistakes made in placating profiteering by vaccine manufacturers, treating them with kid gloves while they prioritized defending their monopoly rights despite any and all human cost. Emory, the original developer of molnupiravir, benefitted from financial support<https://www.keionline.org/36648> from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of other public funders, meaning that once again taxpayers will pay twice over for fruits of scientific advancement. The U.S. government also holds rights related to patents related to molnupiravir<https://www.keionline.org/36648>, giving it additional leverage. Merck’s proposed voluntary licenses are woefully inadequate and will not bring about the global access to molnupiravir needed–Merck’s intellectual property must take a back seat to rapidly expanding truly global access to cheap generic versions of this treatment.


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