Merck in supply agreement with US for its COVID-19 treatment


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2015. (Photo provided by Merck)

KENILWORTH, N.J. (NewsNation Now) — Pharmaceutical company Merck will supply the U.S. government with up to 100,000 doses of its COVID-19 treatment, the company said Wednesday.

The Health and Human Services Department announced the agreement Wednesday, saying the U.S. will support the development and manufacturing of Merck’s investigational therapeutic “to treat hospitalized patients with severe or critical COVID-19.”

“Our agreement with Merck is the latest example of how industry and government are coming together under Operation Warp Speed to move potential therapeutics all the way from development through to manufacturing, enabling faster distribution,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said.

Merck said in a statement that they’ll supply about 60,000-100,000 doses of its coronavirus treatment to the U.S. government for up to about $356 million.

U.S. health officials said Merck’s investigational therapeutic, MK-7110, is a “promising first-in-class fusion protein and immune modulator.”

“Immune modulators have the potential to minimize the damaging effects of an overactive immune response to COVID-19. This overactive response can contribute to the severity of the illness,” the Health and Human Services Department said in a statement.

The funding allows for development of MK-7110, including completing activities required to request Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and for delivery of up to 100,000 doses by June 30, 2021.

In November, Merck agreed to acquire OncoImmune in a $425 million deal that gave it control of the drug.

The data from September showed that the therapy, which is administered as an injection, increased the likelihood of symptom improvement in serious COVID-19 cases and also reduced the risk of respiratory failure and death.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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