Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics today announced that new Phase 3 data for molnupiravir, an investigational oral COVID-19 antiviral medicine, will be presented as a late-breaking poster (#LB-5319) at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) 2021 Annual Meeting taking place virtually from Nov. 17-21. Poster data will be available on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 9 a.m. ET and presented during Poster Session C from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 20.
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The presentation will include data from the molnupiravir clinical development program, with an emphasis on the interim results from the MOVe-OUT trial, including baseline characteristics of study population and additional details on efficacy and safety. The companies previously announced positive results from a planned interim analysis of the trial, which evaluated molnupiravir 800 mg twice-daily in non-hospitalized, unvaccinated adult patients with laboratory-confirmed mild-to-moderate COVID-19, symptom onset within five days of study randomization and at least one risk factor associated with poor disease outcomes (e.g., heart disease, diabetes).
Molnupiravir is authorized in the United Kingdom for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults with a positive SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test and who have at least one risk factor for developing severe illness. Additional regulatory applications are under review in the U.S., EU, Japan and other countries.
About Merck's Global Efforts to Accelerate Access to Molnupiravir Following Regulatory Authorizations or Approvals
Merck is committed to providing timely access to molnupiravir globally through our comprehensive supply and access approach, which includes investing at risk to produce millions of courses of therapy; tiered pricing based on the ability of governments to finance health care; entering into supply agreements with governments; reserving three million courses of therapy for low- to middle-income countries and granting voluntary licenses to generic manufacturers and to the Medicines Patent Pool to make generic molnupiravir available in more than 100 low- and middle-income countries following local regulatory authorizations or approvals.
Supply: In anticipation of the results from MOVe-OUT and the potential for regulatory authorization or approval, Merck has been producing molnupiravir at risk and expects to produce 10 million courses of treatment by the end of 2021, with at least 20 million courses to be produced in 2022.
Supply agreements: Merck entered into a procurement agreement with the U.S. Government under which the company will supply approximately 3.1 million courses of molnupiravir to the U.S. Government, upon EUA or approval from the U.S. FDA. Merck has entered into supply and advance purchase agreements for molnupiravir with governments of multiple countries worldwide, including, Korea, Japan, United Kingdom and United States, pending regulatory authorizations, and is currently in discussions with additional governments. Merck plans to implement a tiered pricing approach based on World Bank country income criteria to reflect countries' relative ability to finance their health response to the pandemic.
Voluntary licenses: As part of its commitment to widespread global access, Merck previously announced that it has entered into a licensing agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool to increase broad access for molnupiravir in low- and middle-income countries. Additionally, Merck previously announced that the company has entered into non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements for molnupiravir with established generic manufacturers to accelerate availability of molnupiravir in more than 100 low- and middle-income countries following approvals or emergency authorization by local regulatory agencies.
Merck and Ridgeback continue to discuss additional measures and collaborations to accelerate broad, global access to molnupiravir. Global access has been a priority for Merck and Ridgeback since the inception of the partnership.
Molnupiravir (MK-4482, EIDD-2801) is an investigational, orally administered form of a potent ribonucleoside analog that inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19.
Molnupiravir was invented at Drug Innovations at Emory (DRIVE), LLC, a not-for-profit biotechnology company wholly owned by Emory University; Emory/DRIVE received some research funding from the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health. Molnupiravir is being developed by Merck & Co., Inc. in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Ridgeback received an upfront payment from Merck and also is eligible to receive contingent payments dependent upon the achievement of certain developmental and regulatory approval milestones. Any profits from the collaboration will be split between the partners equally. Since licensed by Ridgeback, all funds used for the development of molnupiravir have been provided by Merck and by Wayne and Wendy Holman of Ridgeback.
Molnupiravir is also being evaluated as a single medicine for post-exposure prophylaxis in MOVe-AHEAD, a global, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 3 study, which is evaluating the efficacy and safety of a five day treatment course of molnupiravir in preventing the spread of COVID-19 within households. The study will enroll participants who are at least 18 years of age and currently residing in the same household with someone who received a positive test for SARS-CoV-2, has at least one sign or symptom of COVID-19 and has not had those signs and symptoms for more than five days. For more information, please visit http://merckcovidresearch.com . Please visit the Merck media library for molnupiravir images and b-roll.
About the MOVe-OUT Study
The MOVe-OUT trial (MK-4482-002) ( NCT04575597 ) was a global Phase 3, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multi-site study of non-hospitalized adult patients with laboratory-confirmed mild-to-moderate COVID-19. Patients enrolled in the study were unvaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, had at least one risk factor associated with poor disease outcomes, and symptom onset within five days prior to randomization. The primary efficacy objective of MOVe-OUT was to evaluate the efficacy of molnupiravir compared to placebo as assessed by the percentage of participants who were hospitalized and/or die from the time of randomization through Day 29.
The Phase 3 portion of the MOVe-OUT trial was conducted globally in countries including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States. For further information about the MOVe-OUT trial, please visit clinicaltrials.gov .
The most common risk factors for poor disease outcome included obesity, older age (>60 years), diabetes mellitus and heart disease. Delta, Gamma and Mu variants accounted for nearly 80% of the baseline viral variants that had been sequenced at the time of the interim analysis. Recruitment in Latin America, Europe and Africa accounted for 56%, 23% and 15% of the study population, respectively.
About Ridgeback Biotherapeutics
Headquartered in Miami, Florida, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP is a biotechnology company focused on emerging infectious diseases. Ridgeback markets Ebanga TM for the treatment of Ebola and has a late-stage development pipeline which includes molnupiravir for the treatment of COVID-19. Development of molnupiravir is entirely funded by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck & Co., Inc. All equity capital in Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, LP originated from Wayne and Wendy Holman, who are committed to investing in and supporting medical technologies that will save lives. The team at Ridgeback is dedicated to working toward finding life-saving and life-changing solutions for patients and diseases that need champions.
For over 130 years, Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals – including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases – as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter , Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and LinkedIn .
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