Merck Canada to manufacture COVID-19 antiviral drug in Canada for global distribution
7 December 2021
EIRNS - Merck Canada announced on Monday that it is partnering with Thermo Fisher Scientific to manufacture its Covid-19 antiviral drug in Canada for global distribution in a deal Ottawa hopes will help jump-start the country’s position as a bio-manufacturing center and better secure its supply chain for future public health emergencies.
The existing Thermo Fisher facility in Whitby, Ontario will produce doses of molnupiravir, an investigational drug developed in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, for distribution in Canada, the U.K., the European Union, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, pending approvals in those respective regions. The drug is awaiting approval by Health Canada.
The company says its oral pill reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by about 30 percent for at-risk, non-hospitalized adult patients with mild or moderate infection. This was sharply lower than the 50 percent reported in the initial data.
In a narrow vote last week, a panel of expert advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended the drug be authorized for treatment of COVID-19, but expressed concerns over whether it could cause the virus to mutate and its potential to cause birth defects. Studies in rats showed the drug caused toxicity and birth defects at very high doses.
While Merck has yet to conduct specific research on the medication’s effectiveness against the Omicron variant, the company appeared confident that it should have some potency based on its effectiveness against other variants. Final authorization for emergency use by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pending.