The US pharmaceutical multinational Merck wants to bring the first Covid drug onto the market this year. Study results with the therapeutic molnupiravir are encouraging. The drug is said to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by about half. In the competition with other pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Roche, which are also researching coronavirus tablets, Merck is ahead by a nose.
A report published last week by the Harvard School of Public Health and King’s College Hospital in London shows that one generic molnupiravir costs $ 17.74 per therapy to make. This is while Merck is reportedly charging the US federal government more than $ 700 for a five-day molnupiravir regimen. In net terms, this corresponds to a 40-fold surcharge.
$ 712 is the amount US officials pre-paid for molnupiravir therapy in June: $ 1.2 billion for 1.7 million drug treatments once molnupiravir is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is approved as an emergency medication. That’s around 44 cents per tablet. 40 pieces must be taken for a five-day cure. Patients have to pay for a multiple of it. Although public funds helped finance the development of the drug. The US government has provided the developers with $ 29 million, as reported by the US news site “The Intercept”.
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The drug was developed by the US biotech company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Merck acquired the exclusive rights to manufacture, distribute and sell worldwide. “If you look at the generic price, which is between 15 and 20 dollars per treatment, the price of 700 dollars is absolutely outrageous,” said Leena Menghaney of Doctors Without Borders, the news portal RT. “Pharmaceutical companies must refrain from making a profit from the pandemic.”
The manufacturers of vaccines against the coronavirus are also enjoying high returns. Pharmaceutical giant Moderna, whose vaccine is considered the best protection against Covid-19 worldwide, supplies its preparation almost exclusively to rich countries. Moderna let poorer countries wait and achieve billions in profits, reports the “New York Times”. According to the “Somo” investigation network, Moderna is shifting its profits to the US state of Delaware, which is a tax haven, and to Switzerland. (kes)