The “COVID pill” by Merck, found to halve virus hospitalisation and death rates, will be sold in the US at $712 per treatment – while costing $17.74 to produce
Molnupiravir, the COVID pill created by Merck via federal funding, will be priced up at 40 times what it cost to make for US customers.
The pill needs a five day course, similar in treatment to an antibiotic. Except this pill will be the first in the world to function as a COVID vaccine, despite inhalable options going through various stages of clinical trial right now.
According to reporting from The Intercept, molnupiravir will be sold for $712 per five day course.
50% capable against hospitalisation
Last week, the pharmaceutical company announced that Phase Three of the clinical trial was conducted on adult patients with mild to severe COVID.
An analysis of 775 patients found that 7.3% of those given molnupiravir were hospitalised or died, 29 days after treatment – in comparison to 14.1% of placebo patients. Eight placebo patients also died.
The pill was taken every 12 hours for five days, with an international pool of participants.
“A tiered pricing approach” outside of US
Merck said on Friday: “Merck has committed to providing timely access to molnupiravir globally, if it is authorized or approved, and 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.”
The company has struck deals with a handful of Indian companies so far.
Currently, Indian companies are creating plans to price the drug at less than £12 for the full treatment. In light of the unchanging struggle for Global South countries to access even generic recipe rights for COVID vaccines, this is a win.
However, the COVID pill will still be sold at a significant mark-up in the US – where socio-economically deprived communities will struggle to access the vaccine.