Affordable COVID-19 pill to be sold in developing countries

The company behind the COVID-19 pill granted royalty-free license for the product.

Merck, the company that developed the pill, which halved hospitalisation and deaths during trial, has committed to a royalty-free license for its product.

The deal was made with a United Nations-backed nonprofit that aims at making medical treatment and technologies accessible. The deal states that the drug will be allowed to be manufactured in developing nations, and that the pill will be sold cheaply, especially since vaccines in these nations are in short supply.

The agreement with the UN-supported organisation called Medicines Patent Pool will allow companies in 105 countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, as reported by The New York Times. This will permit them to sublicense the formulation for the antiviral pill called molnupiravir.

“The Merck license is a very good and meaningful protection for people living in countries where more than half of the world’s population lives,” said James Love, who leads the nonprofit Knowledge Ecology International.

Manufacturers in developing countries are expected to sell the drug for as little as $20 per treatment or a 5-day course, as opposed to the $712 per course that the US has agreed to for its initial purchase.

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