Singapore signs supply agreement for Merck’s experimental oral COVID-19 drug

October 6, 2021
Singapore signs supply agreement for Merck’s experimental oral COVID-19 drug

Merck and Co., Inc. (Merck), also known as MSD outside the US and Canada, has just announced a supply and purchase agreement with Singapore that will provide the Republic with access to Merck’s experimental oral antiviral drug for COVID-19. The drug molnupiravir is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19.

Singapore is one of the latest Asian countries to place an order for molnupiravir – rightly so, as recent clinical data has suggested molnupiravir to reduce the risk of hospitalisation or death by 50% for patients likely to develop severe COVID-19.

However, Singapore will only gain access to molnupiravir after regulatory authorisation and approval is achieved.

“We are pleased to enter into this agreement with the Singapore government and to partner with them on bringing supply of molnupiravir, an investigational oral antiviral therapeutic, to Singapore,” said Pang Lai Li, Managing Director for MSD in Singapore & Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s Dr. Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist, Rophi Clinic, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, said, “Early treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 is going to be a gamechanger: it is going to limit disease progression to more severe illness especially in high-risk patients. It is a useful adjunct to the high vaccine coverage in Singapore.

Read: Experimental pill for home treatment of COVID-19 passes clinical trials

“Very significantly, we can arm our frontline doctors with oral medications that may make a difference at the point of diagnosis. This may shift treatment from hospitals to general practitioners and polyclinics as Singapore pivots towards endemic living with COVID-19,” Dr. Leong added.

Merck is currently seeking approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the drug. In addition to developing molnupiravir, the pharmaceutical company is also collaborating with Johnson & Johnson to support the manufacturing and supply of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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