Merck will share formula for its COVID pill with poor countries

Merck has granted a royalty-free license for its promising Covid-19 pill to a United Nations-backed nonprofit in a deal that would allow the drug to be manufactured and sold cheaply in the poorest nations, where vaccines for the coronavirus are in devastatingly short supply.

The agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool, an organization that works to make medical treatment and technologies globally accessible, will allow companies in 105 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, to sublicense the formulation for the antiviral pill, called molnupiravir, and begin making it…

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