Merck and Partner Ridgeback Fill U.S. Order for Covid-19 Pill

Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP’s Molnupiravir antiviral medication.Photographer: Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg

HERE WE GO!

By February 8, 2022, 6:23 AM CST with my remarks in (…)

Merck & Co. said that it had provided about 3.1 million courses of its Covid-19 pill to the U.S. government, fulfilling the terms of a federal pact that the drugmaker and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP agreed to last year.

The companies said in a statement on Tuesday that they have completed manufacturing of 10 million courses of the therapy and are on track to make at least 20 million courses this year.

(Can’t you see them jumping for joy as you read this? )

The surge in coronavirus infections in the U.S. spurred by the omicron variant has caused demand for treatments to soar. However, some monoclonal antibodies are ineffective against the new strain. While Merck’s pill and another oral Covid treatment called Paxlovid made by Pfizer Inc. work against omicron, supplies of the authorized therapies have been tight in some places. (WRONG– they have been denied)

Though the omicron wave has begun to ebb in the U.S., deaths from the virus remain high, recently averaging about 2,500 a day, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Merck Chief Executive Robert Davis said in the statement that the companies believe molnupiravir “will be a critical addition in helping curb the impact of Covid-19.”

Shares of Merck were down 0.2% in premarket trading in New York.

Merck said in its statement that it has entered into purchasing and supply agreements for molnupiravir in more than 30 markets worldwide, and has so far shipped the drug to more than 25 countries.

Investors (REMEMBER THAT WORD… “INVESTORS”) have begun to brace for the possibility that a sustained decline in Covid infections could undercut expected demand for vaccines, drugs and other virus products like masks and diagnostic tests. (THINK ABOUT THIS) Pfizer said on Tuesday that it had $22 billion in orders for Paxlovid, lower than the $25 billion in sales analysts had been expecting, on average.